As a marketing writer with a strong ethical code, I sometimes worry about the evolution of information and how we access it. Over the last couple of decades, mainstream reporting and editorial media (be it print, radio or TV) have become more and more entertainment focused and sensational in how they deliver the “news.” Everything on the news seems to “epic” these days, even the weather. A disturbingly high percentage of Americans say they get their “news” by watching shows such the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. (Personally I quite like these shows, they are intelligent, witty and irreverent... great fun, but certainly not objective and well-rounded primary news sources.)
New Information Sources
Over the past several years, the Internet has spawned an abundance of information sources, from hard-hitting, objective news to entertainment fluff, to personal agenda soapboxes. A little heavier on the fluff and personal agenda, and not always easy to discern the difference.
And most recently, the push is for strategically written content that will draw an online audience. Sometimes this can be well-researched and very informative, with a focus on educating or enlightening the reader. Often it is thinly disguised marketing and sales drabble.
A Trend Towards 'Infotainment'
I certainly support options. The freedom of people to access many different opinions and sources of information, and the right for people and companies to have their say. But I also feel that in order to be relevant, “news” must retain (or in some cases, regain) its integrity and present factual, objective and insightful pieces (just the facts ma’am). Education and entertainment need not be separate entities, but sometimes the distinction gets so blurred that infotainment becomes the norm; and that is worrisome.
A well-written article on brand journalism by Ira Basen was just published in the Globe and Mail. Here's a excerpt:
Most purchasing decisions today begin with a search query (“What kinds of snow tires should I buy?”). The vast majority of clicks go to the top two or three results on the search page. And in recent years, Google has been tweaking its search algorithm to highlight sites that provide fresh, relevant content.
As a result, says Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, every company now must also be a media company. “If you want to connect with your customers,” he says from his office in Cleveland, “you’d better be where they are online, and you’d better have some interesting information to share with them.”
Read the rest here and share your thoughts in the comments section.