Not long ago, the hardtracking staff promised to examine brand journalism, another flavor-of-the-month among the branded content set.

And so, here we go.

Start with PR Newser (“Is ‘Brand Journalism’ the New PR?”), which says American Express’s Open Forum is a legit news source, as is HSBC’s Business without Borders. They are “legitimate media outlets designed to promote their underlying brands without directly selling or marketing the products in question by providing relevant, valuable information to their target audiences via original content, guest writers and media partnerships with other prominent third-party  brands like Mashable.”

Cisco’s The Network, however, not so much.

But then there’s Forbes blogger Lewis DVorkin, a gasbag of Citgoesque proportions, who recently wrote this in a post headlined The Birth of Brand Journalism and Why It’s Good for the News Business:

Welcome to the emerging world of brand journalism — marketers using the tools of digital publishing and social media to speak directly to consumers. The advertising industry commonly refers to it as content marketing, brands disintermediating news professionals by writing and distributing thought leadership content. It’s one of the most quietly talked about areas in the media industry today, ultimately destined to shake up 100 years of journalism.

Right. By turning it into 100 years of pseudojournalism.

Representative sample from Forbes’ AdVoice (now BrandVoice – much better!), which is just another ad in sheep’s clothing:



Oh, yeah – “brands disintermediating news professionals by writing and distributing thought leadership content” is gonna work out just great.


John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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