Opinions, coarse or otherwise, are good. In fact, they are to be encouraged -- they stimulate critical thinking and discourse. Look, plain old-fashioned thinking is good -- that's why we live in a democratic society, right? But opinions are just that -- a personal viewpoint like this very piece you are reading. And so, while I like to think of myself a good writer, a journalist I am not.
Journalism is a profession, ignited by a thirst for the facts and the truth, accompanied by deep passion for telling it how it is and in a way that will impact lives. These are skills which cannot be acquired via a webinar or a Bulldog Reporter Media Blitz one-day circus for $399.
While the business model for newspapers may be broken -- and, yes, they've been irresponsible, unresponsive to changing needs -- let's not miss the point here. What happens to news, and in two words, our intelligence, if we don't support journalism?
We will be force fed biased, paid-for-content. It will be like an election year, but without end. We will have to put up with more inane PR crap -- and I say that confidently as a PR pro. We will stop having conversations with our colleagues about Daniel Politti's remarks on Slate, or why Glenn Beck is getting ANY coverage at all.
Instead, we'll be reduced to posting posts in response to posts, in response to posts, positing, posturing and basically learning a whole lot of nothing. And, while blogging may be good for our inner-journalistic soul, consumer journalism is an oxymoron. Frank Rich wrote an outstanding piece in The New York Times a few weeks back, echoing this very same sentiment.
Ultimately, we'll have less choice to make informed choices and decisions. So while big biz ponders the future of the newspapers and how to fix them, we should be having discussions about quality content.
What makes good content, and why do we need it?
The Internet, amen, has given us access to just about anything and everything we need to know... and then some. At times, it's overwhelming. Filtering through on what to spend precious time reading is a tough call because, right now, there is a lot of quality content and journalism available.
Let's take this site, as an example. We contribute here because we're passionate about this industry, because the content is always on the mark, and those who write and report here know their stuff. This is our bible, because the information we get here is unbiased, objective and of value to us.
The reporters need to get paid, the staff needs to get paid and the business needs to function as a business -- otherwise we all lose the privilege of having access to this quality content and the conversations and intelligence that come with it. You only need to read the feedback loop comments, and you'll know what I'm talking about.
I'm not ready to let that go. Are you?
To borrow from Frank Rich again, in the end we pay for what we get, as is the case in almost every aspect of life. If we don't support the development of intelligent and unbiased reporting, the sensible and objective gathering of news we can use and meaningful, knowledgeable discussions -- what have we got to look forward to? Not only will my business and industry crumble away, but I suspect the support system for many of yours will, too.
So I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and pay for content that I read and use. And I'm sure that a lot of you would as well. The trick is getting the public to do same.
Editor's note: If you'd like to contribute to this newsletter, see our editorial guidelines first and then contact Nina Lentini. Vanessa Horwell is Chief Visibility Officer at ThinkInk. She works with companies in the US, UK and Europe to improve their visibility through nontraditional and creative PR strategies. Reach her at email@example.com.