Last week I got involved in one of those debates about journalism versus communications. I thought we were past all that but apparently not. The premise is always the same – journalism is pure and comms is dirty. As usual, comms was used as a catch-all term for any writing that’s not “journalism”, including public relations and content marketing.
Content, it seems, is the bitter end of the writing road.
I used to get fired up about these things, but now I can barely manage an eye roll.
Despite the shade, the lament by traditional journalists is always the same. There are no jobs. It’s hard to make a living if you do manage to snag a position. No-one appreciates their brilliance. Only journalists can act as the fourth estate.
Give me a break.
Content is as good as you want to make it. Brands have figured out there’s competitive advantage in original, high-quality content. Many organisations are filling a gap brought about by a shrinking investment in traditional media.
Brands are investing in content and the best of it is no different than what journalists have always done. Last week I wrote about:
Not a single one of these articles was pitching or selling a product or service. Most of them ran between 800 and 1200 words, the equivalent of a two- or three-page feature story.
I also did a fair bit of editing of white papers and thought leadership pieces on topics like:
Sure, most of my work has a call to action at the end of the story but that’s not what guides the story or the writing. I read dozens of reports, I interviewed people, I found an angle and I developed the copy. I worked with an editor on some of it and all of it was sent for proofreading. Then I filed my copy and moved on to the next story.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s journalism.
The biggest difference between what I do and what is being touted as pure journalism is the pay. And the opportunity to write. There’s a lot more of both in content marketing.
If you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with that and I don’t care if you call it content or comms. To be fair to all us content writers, traditional journalism hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory lately.
Dan Hatch wrote a wonderful piece after he made the transition from working in traditional newsrooms to becoming a content marketer. If you want his opinion, you can read it on our Global Copywriting blog. Check out “There Really Is Life After Journalism, I Promise”.
20 September 2022
This is an excerpt from the 72nd edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.
The above is just one small part of our fortnightly newsletter. It’s jam-packed with excellent advice, tips and news for anyone who writes for their business. Get your own copy here: