Journalists face many challenges these days. Maybe too many. Fast evolving technology, deep changes in business models, audiences as ignorant of the basics of our work, as critical of our role in society. But let´s focus on one of the most difficult of all: the sudden need to turn ourselves into brands.
This need is a simple demand of the market. At the same pace than the publisher brands, the traditional outlets that have paid our salaries for decades, are falling short to adapt to the changing times, in order to survive we have no alternative than to become brands ourselves. Turn our name into a logo that can represent something for the readers, so that they look for our work, and find in it some special value that can make it stand in an ocean of contents.
But this need clashes with an old tradition in journalism. I can perfectly remember one of the first meetings with the team of editors in my newsroom, when I told them that we were lacking a litlle bit of exposure, of self promotion, you could say. The competition, a smaller newspaper with almost noon existing circulation, managed to turn any small piece of news they could find in a huge story. All their newsroom was promoting their work on social media, so immediately it was replicated by politians and other journalists. It seemed that they scored a goal every day. On the contrary, we would produce really good journalism, but we lacked that exposure. The reply of an older editor was cold and firm. “I´m not here to do self promotion. I do my work, and it´s the audience who will later judge if it is god or no”.
He is a very good journalist, and I respect his point. But his problem is that he can´t adapt to the new times.
If we don´t “sell” our work ourselves, if we don´t promote it as brands, then we will just disappear in this world of abundance of contents.
So it´s a delicate balance what we have to produce. Be able to generate content that is valid, honest, interesting, but at the same time, do the job that in other times, the marketing department would do for us.
And this branding cannot be limited to our group, pour town, our state. We need to expand our limits in order to get critical mass of readership.
It’s an everyday struggle. But the consequence of not doing it is the worst punishment a journalist can get. The inconsequence of our work