Monday, April 16, 2012

I work at the fifth-worst career, part 2 - advertorial

Last week, I blogged about the fact that a certain careers website said that journalism was the first worst job/career field right now, noting that, from the inside, that was no surprise.

Well, I'm probably going to do a few follow-up posts, looking at more specific issues.

Today, I tackle where the editorial and advertising rubber overlap on the same road, the good old "advertorial" content, as well as a couple of other business issues.

Per a recent post on Bloomberg about BuzzFeed, new media may be headed in an even more advertorial direction. This should be of no surprise. A recent story at Editor and Publisher said that many newspapers don't "get" either the traditional web or various new media as being different enough in format from hardcopy to call out for different presentation styles.

Now, a big paper like the New York Times has staff to create graphics slideshows and more. A community daily, a six-day or five-day, doesn't, really. A nondaily certainly doesn't. But, if readers who are reading the nearest metro seven-day of any size see those, won't they start expecting them from smaller papers, too?

So, per BuzzFeed, if smaller dailies want that type of stuff, it probably will be an easy opening for online advertorial content. For nondailies, it will probably be an issue of web news getting no more than an Onion-esque first-graf look. Or else.

And, it's not just smaller dailies. I've already seen online advertorial content at the Austin American-Statesman. In fact, it may be easier to disguise the advertorial nature of online content until after someone has clicked the link.

For nondailies, more advertorial content is probably going to come via the newspaper oriented web content companies that host, and provide support for, most nondailies that aren't part of big corporate chains. Expect more advertorial video first. Slideshows second. Text "news" third.

Meanwhile, advertorial's always existed in hardcopy newspapers, and usually more so at community ones, and above all in smaller communities that still had the fortune, or the misfortune (due to it straining both papers even thinner) of competing newspapers.

Even when not part of explicit "buy a story, get an ad" special sections, I've seen it. At my current newspaper, we got a fax last week from the area's top renter and property manager. An official from said company asked if we were aware that current highway construction projects plus the pending work on a new power plant were likely to make renting a better option than ever for homeowners who can't sell their homes right now? Said official then said his company would like to advertise in the same issue of our semiweekly that we ran a story about this.

It's fucking disgusting, to be honest. The story line actually isn't a bad one, though the highway projects don't have that many new people in town, and we'll see on the power plant. But, that we the newspaper will be that blatant (and not the first time) ...

So, journalists? Let's be honest and stop calling PR "the dark side." You're going to get expected to do more and more of it.

Part 3 ... advertising and circulation revenues ... is ahead.

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