The tidy lines of journalism are blurred.

A once black and white indus­try print­ed with­out room for rebut­tal now lays at the cross­roads of con­tent cre­ation and mar­ket­ing mad­ness. Jour­nal­ists can­not seem to find suf­fi­cient pay for work. Sto­ries get dis­re­gard­ed. How did this hap­pen?


It is not as close­ly linked to our recent boom in dig­i­tal media as you might think. In fact, the jour­nal­ism indus­try faced its first game-chang­ing chal­lenge with mar­keters in 1899.

Two men held the reigns of Amer­i­can jour­nal­ism in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, and they led their respec­tive troops in oppo­site direc­tions.


Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World guid­ed his hunch for news with a strict sys­tem of integri­ty. He cov­et­ed the authen­tic, accu­rate sto­ry­telling upon which Amer­i­can jour­nal­ism had built itself. His rival and fel­low jour­nal­is­tic troop leader, William Ran­dolph Hearst of the New York Jour­nal, was fol­low­ing a dif­fer­ent set of hunch­es.

Hearst and his lim­it­less bud­get were in the game to make his paper rise to the top of the mar­ket and be the only paper to which the pub­lic need­ed to pay notice. He enticed Pulitzer’s writ­ers with gen­er­ous salaries; he dropped the price of his paper to com­pet­i­tive­ly weak­en the New York World; sto­ries ran before sources and plot details were con­firmed beyond doubt. Pulitzer tried to hold tight to his ide­al­is­tic vision of jour­nal­ism, but let down his guard more and more often as the two pub­li­ca­tions raced for read­er­ship. William Randolph Hearst

Cue the Span­ish-Amer­i­can War and America’s obses­sion with it. Funds are poured into both pub­li­ca­tions so irre­spon­si­bly to win favoritism amongst the pub­lic; the only con­ceiv­able bud­get fix is to raise the price for and dis­tri­b­u­tion demands of news­boys. It didn’t take long for a group of the impov­er­ished young work­ers – 5,000 of them, actu­al­ly- to ban togeth­er and go on strike against the new expec­ta­tions. Protests in the Brook­lyn Bridge drew atten­tion to one of the most preva­lent affairs in jour­nal­ism and child labor.

Cir­cu­la­tion came to a screech­ing halt. The boys refused to budge until their demands were met- and they were. With­in two weeks, both the World and the Jour­nal paid their debts and Pulitzer, and Hearst were left with an unavoid­able rev­e­la­tion: with­out mar­ket­ing, there is no media.

Today, jour­nal­ism and con­tent mar­ket­ing sit at the same oppos­ing chairs that Pulitzer and Hearst once did.

And again, both stare at a cen­ter­piece on the table that reminds both that with­out a savvy mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy, a sto­ry is but words in a diary.

Every sto­ry needs a rep. Ide­al­ly, every sto­ry needs a task force of reps whose mis­sion is to bring that sto­ry to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. But there is this notion of oppo­si­tion so heavy in the air above that table. Jour­nal­ism wants noth­ing to do with the inau­then­tic tac­tics of con­tent mar­keters to reach more audi­ences. Con­tent mar­keters don’t ful­ly under­stand that the stub­born pas­sion with which jour­nal­ists pen their pages is the soul of writ­ing that keeps read­ers want­i­ng to digest more.

Journalism and content marketing are at the same table.

Journalism and content marketing are at the same table

They’re in the same busi­ness, and they need to be work­ing togeth­er. Jour­nal­ists need the insight of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing experts, and con­tent cre­ation com­pa­nies need the writ­ing and research exper­tise of jour­nal­ists.

We are beyond embrac­ing the idea that both sides of the table can help each oth­er rise to the top. Jour­nal­ists and con­tent mar­keters need to work togeth­er to keep report­ing and sto­ry­telling alive. Jour­nal­ists need to adopt a thor­ough under­stand­ing of media dis­tri­b­u­tion, how to reach audi­ences, when to push con­tent, at what pre­cise moment to make a sto­ry go viral.

Content marketers need to take writing seriously.

Research precedes concept and story override word count criteria.

Con­tent mar­ket­ing is well read­ied for the enter­tain­ment-dri­ven media and news con­sump­tion we live amidst today. Mar­ket­ing genius­es know exact­ly when to throw a sto­ry to the pub­lic. Through which medi­ums their audi­ences will most quick­ly digest it. When to sup­ple­ment a piece with oth­er plat­forms. Where to take the life­line of a tale.

Today, stories never die. They’re recycled, retweeted, repeated and referenced six months down the line.

Con­tent mar­ket­ing con­tin­ues to evolve in the clever­est ways, and it puts them at an unbeat­able advan­tage for con­tent absorp­tion. Once you mas­ter who to reach, when and where, the how to reach an audi­ence opens itself up to an Infini­tum of inno­v­a­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties.

But there’s still one element missing. The why.

Why are you reach­ing out to your audi­ence? Why do you want to bring them a sto­ry? It can’t be lim­it­ed to deliv­er­ing con­tent that dri­ves sales. What feeds your con­sumer? What makes them excit­ed about the world? Devel­op an inter­est in a new sub­ject? Why can’t you be that source that brings them every­thing they need to know and imag­ine about life? You can! Enter the jour­nal­ist.

A jour­nal­ist under­stands a read­er in a way that a con­tent mar­keter does not. Jour­nal­ists speak heart to heart. They know the clues in a sto­ry that paint a pic­ture for a read­er and to which take­away a read­er will con­nect. A jour­nal­ist finds the sto­ry with­in the sto­ry; the one that grips the read­er and gives them the pur­pose for learn­ing about a world­ly event greater than stay­ing in the know.

By adopt­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive men­tal­i­ty, jour­nal­ists and con­tent mar­keters can take the world by storm, keep­ing the mass­es well-edu­cat­ed and well-enter­tained. Jour­nal­ists have start­ed to strad­dle both news and brand sides of con­tent, bet­ter equip­ping the incom­ing gen­er­a­tions of writ­ers to report with a mar­ket­ing instinct.

It isn’t sell­ing out. It’s link­ing up and mak­ing sell­ing pos­si­ble so that we can ensure that shrewd report­ing and sto­ry­telling nev­er die.