TAKEAWAY: A report from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism hits the nail over its tormented head: we as journalists need to embrace advertising as what it is, information that readers/users seek and value.
With a headline that reads Journalists’ survival depends on ads, study says, an article in the International Herald Tribune offers highlights of a report published Tuesday by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
I applaud Bill Grueskin, the academic dean for the journalism school (with whom I worked during my consulting days with The Wall Street Journal) for offering many good recommendations that this industry needs in order to survive.
This blog has constantly reminded all of us in this industry about the importance of incorporating advertising into the primary texture of our work.
The report’s section for conclusions opens with a quote from Randall Rothenberg, the head of the Interactive Advertising Bureau and a former reporter for The New York Times stating that: “Here’s the problem: Journalists just don’t understand their business.”
As someone who has inhabited newsrooms globally for 40 years, I can add to Mr. Rothenberg’s statement: Some journalists are not at all interested in understanding the business side of what they do. Perhaps this worked in the past, although the best publishers and editors I have worked with throughout my career NEVER ignored business, and, particularly, the importance of advertising.
Now, it is a matter of survival, which is why I think the Columbia University report is so timely and needed.
What survival means
Survival means understanding the business side.
Survival means treating advertising as content with added value for readers/users.
Survival depends on more than just a healthy relationship between editorial and advertising. In fact, survival is all about real meaningful collaborations and team work where we erase the traditional mentality of barricading advertising into the far flung corners of a page or screen—-treating it as a necessary evil—-and move it to where the center of the information process resides.
Advertising, too, is information, sought and welcome by many who read our newspapers, websites, tablets and other platforms.
Bringing advertising into the planning and creation of new platforms does not mean relinquishing editorial control, or letting the advertising influence the storytelling process.
“We’re not suggesting that journalists get marching orders from advertisers,” said Dean Grueskin, co-author of the report. “We are suggesting that journalists get a much better understanding of why so many advertising dollars have left the traditional news media business.”
I do not start a tablet creation workshop these days without a member (s) of the advertising team present. It is as simple as that.
The days of editorial people rejoicing in their superiority should have been over a long time ago.
The Columbia University study offers a very much needed kick in the behind.
And because this is an academic report, I am encouraged to think that journalism schools nationwide will become aware of how important it is to introduce their students to the business side of our craft.
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