Can Brands Be Journalists?

September 22, 2016 Laura Smith of Contently

Scroll through "Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn't Work" on the New York Times, and it looks like a beautifully produced interactive, multi-media piece of journalism. 

In between chunks of reporting, you have stats, graphics, video interviews and more. 

Yet once your eyes focus back at the top of the page, the giveaway words are there: "paid post." 

Native advertising, sponsored content, brand journalism. Whatever you want to call it, this kind of thing is popping up more and more nowadays. 

Traditional print media isn't getting the readership it used to and selling ad space simply isn't going to fly with what readership it still has left. Newsrooms have been cutting (ahem, Toronto Star) and lots of content is now done by freelancers as opposed to staff. 

To stay balanced on its shaky foundations, newspaper publishers are turning to the middle ground: content. Brands need to be media properties and media properties need to be brands. Why? Because newspapers have reach and expertise in creating quality content, but brands have the big bucks behind them. 

In light of The New York Times' female inmates piece (sponsored by Netflix and Orange is the New Black), will brands fund the next spotlight? Especially when it comes to ethics and objectivity, there's a lot of grey space surrounding the topic. 

Contently cuts through the murky waters below, to talk brands who are stepping into the journalistic arena and journalists who are changing their scope of work. 

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