What Time Does Journalism Resume?

Having acknowledged that print is no longer the single-most prominent medium for content, the publishing industry has been hard at work adapting its business in an attempt to exploit the reach and capability of a rapidly expanding Internet. Perhaps most apparent is the frenzied activity in the business of news journalism.

The profound impact of the Internet on journalism was summarised well by Donald Mohoney in his recent post on the ‘Some Blind Alleys‘ blog. In it, he cites an article, published by The Huffington Post relating to the starting time of Super Bowl XLV. Knowing the search term most likely to be Googled in the period leading up to the event, The ‘Huff titled the article with the exact term: “What Time Does The Super Bowl Start?” At first glance, this might not seem odd for an article title, but as a news article its application seems inconcruous. Why? It contains no information. It was written simply as a means to secure maximum traffic to the associated article. Mohoney goes on to explain that the article to which the title related, was also compiled in a form calculated to maximise its exposure to Google. As a consequence, the article suffers from an inherent lack of warmth – a kind of antiseptic disconnection from the human readers it aims to attract. Thankfully, as Mohoney reports, the introduction of Google’s Panda update decelerated the slide toward engineered content, churned out simply as search engine fodder.

But it’s the need for Panda and the subsequent radical effect of its deployment, that highlights the power the Internet, or more accurately the power Google has on determining how an entire industry goes about its business. If people don’t know your content exists, how is it going to be monetized…? Ah, but therein lies another story and I feel, another blog post. I can see it now: How Do I Make Money From My Bland, Search-Engine Friendly Article?

Ads Worth Spreading

In November 2010, Chris Anderson, Founder of Future Publishing and now TED curator, expanded upon what he describes as ‘ambush marketing,’ – the unexpected hijacking of peoples attention when its focussed elsewhere. Such practices tend not just to irritate but to actually damage a brand. Take a look at his lecture. Its long but well worth it.

Publishing defined. Not.

Increasingly, as brands recognize the inherent marketing value of their own content, many are investigating the viability of producing their own brand communications – fulfilling the role normally undertaken by content or publishing agencies.  In effect, they are looking at becoming publishers.

The NYTimes reflects on this with some great insights from brands such as BestBuy and Net-A-Porter.

All this raises an interesting and, given the launch of the iPad, a highly topical question: what is publishing anyway?

My MacOS 10.6 Dictionary (which refer ences the Oxford English Dictionary) believes publishing is: 

“The occupation, business, or activity of preparing and issuing books, journals,  and other material for sale. ”

Wikipedia defines Publishing as:

“The process of production and dissemination of literature or information – the activity of making information available for public view.”

Dictionary.com believes publishing is:

“The activities or business of a publisher, esp. of books or periodicals.”

What do these definitions tell us? Not much. And that’s the point. Publishing is a grey area. Not grey as in ‘dull’ (far from it), grey as in ‘unclear. ‘

What is abundantly clear however, is that brands are feeling emboldened enough to try ‘it’ themselves.

Bad news for content agencies? Much the opposite. As brands become more aware of the power of relevant content, so the opportunity for the business of creativity becomes greater.

Whatever publishing is, content agencies know it best. For now.