He said he is a ‘powerful tool’, in the media and yes, he is a tool.
‘I have an article on drink driving that I reckon would fit great on the pages of The Echo,’ was the email opener, and that seemed innocuous enough.
It was a ‘cold call’ email from an Australian public relations company spokesperson, and he offered at first glance what looked like a news item. And when I checked his website, the penny dropped. I had wasted my time: the opening paragraph said they spread ‘a brand’s message through creative and colourful content strategy’.
Indeed one of the ‘articles’ posted gushed in support of the fossil fuel industry. So I asked, ‘Are you shilling a product in the guise of it being “content”? Just a thought – no accusations here, just curiosity.’
While it seemed slightly antagonistic to keep questioning his integrity (he eventually had enough of me), it is reasonable to be fiercely protective of information. After all, we live in an age where there are more employed in the public relations sector than journalism. It’s a recent tipping point, and one that many people would know. But not everyone.
Which leads us to the US news and entertainment website, BuzzFeed.
The Guardian last week reported that it is swimming in cash, raised primarily from presenting advertorial, or advertising that looks like news editorial. It strikes at the heart of ‘old’ news media because the two have always been separated. And for good reason: journalism that operates without fear or favour is the most valuable.
Anyway, the point is that there is a push, through newly discovered social media principles, to encourage us to interact with products so we might end up buying them. It’s a clear departure from traditional news gathering and makes the credibility of news unclear.
On the bright side, a new journalism venture worth a reported $250 million has been launched between eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald is one of the few voices that question the powerful and elite, so let’s hope he has the courage to ask whether eBay should be taxed more in light of the effect eBay has on traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers.
Hans Lovejoy, editor
Thank you, 2013, it sure was a gas. Much like the all natural, organic, juicy, colourless, odourless gas that lies beneath our vast lands and has corporations and shareholders salivating. And it sure is good to cook with. But I digress. Here are some interesting events throughout the year (in no chronological order):
Farewell to those who passed and welcome to those anew.
Happy new year and a safe 2014 everyone!
Hans Lovejoy, editor
With Christmas and the holiday season upon us, it’s a good opportunity for us to extend thanks to our advertisers, from the smallest to the largest, for the commitment you have made through advertising during the course of last year with The Echo.
For some, the tangible result that newspaper advertising brings to their business makes it financially rewarding.
For others, association and loyalty plays a part, mainly because you understand that without an independent and critical voice, we are collectively less informed.
And while some of our advertisers may not agree with everything The Echo publishes, the reality is that this newspaper is entirely funded by advertising.
To maintain relevancy to its community, this publication must continue to question elected leaders, bureaucrats, authority figures (ie police and magistrates) and of course the business and wider community.
There is also a benefit in celebrating this unique place we call home and the fascinating people who visit or are our neighbours. Connecting with and supporting the active, engaged members of communities should always be the cornerstone of any publication.
But there is also a great benefit from a media that does the harder job of asking tough questions of everyone – there must be a balance between the ‘soft news’ and ‘hard news’ that is published.
This year, I hope that you feel The Echo has been a useful mechanism through which the community can be informed and grow, and I welcome your input to firstname.lastname@example.org.