The Gap Between Journalism and Marketing Gets Smaller

Astute readers of Fauna Corporation (or those who simply scroll down) will know that I was working a contract for a digital ad agency before the Holidays.

As it turns out, they liked my moxie so much they offered me a full-time position, which I’ve accepted. I’ve just come through my first week as an official employee there, and boy are my arms tired – or however that old joke goes.

Working in an ad agency is a bit of a weird shift for me (though not outside my employment history), given my heavy focus on multimedia journalism, so I thought I would take a second to try to let you know where this decision came from.

First, I want to confirm that my love of journalism continues, and my interest in trying to figure out (with you all!) where the industry is going remains as strong as ever.

But the reality – for me, at least – is that the technological advances, emerging narrative tools and the unbelievable creativity of multimedia journalists has far outpaced the journalism industry as a whole.

Personally, I had no problem landing writing gigs (for terrible freelance rates, naturally), but I had a lot of trouble landing contracts for my multimedia work, despite genuine interest and positive feedback from the web- and section-editors I spoke to.

The issue seems to be that the larger media structure is still struggling with how to carry multimedia work, how to market it, how to deal with the reciprocal loop it can create with viewers, etc..

Meanwhile the technology still advances, the narratives become ever more layered, and the e-journos continue to produce novel, intelligent work. These developments, coupled with the state of our media, generally, have become a recipe for disaster for freelancers.

When an opportunity came along to work for a cutting-edge digital agency, I realized the potential of working in an industry that was not behind the e-curve (and is, in fact, is often pioneering new communication techniques), and I recognized that I could learn an awful lot about building and deploying online content from creative experts.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do. I hope that doesn’t make my usual readership think I’ve sold out to The Man. Or even, A Man.

In my opinion, the days of journalistic purity are pretty much over, as each journalist increasingly becomes his own brand and entrepreneurial skills become ever more important in getting eyes on your work (let alone be paid for it), as the industry crashes all around us. It doesn’t mean the ethics of a journalist have been or should be compromised, only that the (often fictitious) divide between editorial and marketing is dissolving ever more.

So far, the new job has been very challenging and rewarding, and I think it will benefit my journalism work in the long run if I can continue racing up the (steep!) learning curve. My hope is to bring new insights to the Fauna Corp readership, while still sharing interesting and engaging multimedia journalism content with you all, as we try to figure out where journalism is headed.

2010 promises to be an interesting new year, and I hope you all stick with Fauna Corporation for the ride.

Let me know your thoughts about all this, leave a comment if you have anything to share. No sales agents will visit your home.

2 comments

  1. siobhan curious

    The potential to learn about multimedia communications from the advertising world has got to be astounding – as ever, those who need the tools most will learn to use them first and best. (Or maybe that should be: those who KNOW they need the tools and have the patience and creativity to make the most of them…)

  2. admin

    Siobhan – you are totally right. There are so many organizations doing completely innovative things, and I believe there will be a greater degree of “trickle down” because we are so media saturated now.

    Very cool stuff! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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