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Newspeople as their own “brands” is the natural order, and is now reemerging after centuries of suppression 10/26/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Branding.

It has taken technology 500 years to make news as good as it had been before the printing press was invented. Back then, when news was spread by word-of-mouth, we felt a personal bond with our news sources. We sought out those who were the most engaging, trustworthy, and compatible with our interests and values. We were grateful to those who risked their personal reputations for our benefit by serving-up early or controversial opinions, rumor, and gossip. We harbored no false expectations that our sources were superhumanly infallible, nor did they insist that they were.

But in the past century, we allowed technology to turn our all-too-human news sources into unlikable know-it-alls. The NY Times sniffs that they provide us with “all the news that’s fit to print.” CBS imposed its own idea of a grandfather upon us, and after each broadcast Walter Cronkite assured us “that’s the way it is.” Our local TV reporters are pretty-boys and girls who present each story as if it were a new reason to be very worried. And our newspapers are filled with faceless articles, seemingly written either by corporations or machines with 2001-Space-Odyssey-HAL-like initials such as “AP” and “UPI.”

So it is not surprising to read in the New York Observer that there is an emerging new generation of newspeople who are selling themselves as brands, and in the process providing value to their employers and job security to themselves. Up-and-comers like Brian Stelter (news of the media), Julia Allison (dating columnist), and Perez Hilton (Hollywood gossip) are creating the types of news source personas that one might come across in a word-of-mouth village, such as the matchmaker, the town gossip, the jester, and those who exude gravitas. News is largely an airborne phenomenon spread by social contact — it requires a real person at both ends.


1. Jakob Lodwick - 10/28/07

I’ve never heard this idea before, but I love it.

2. Chris B. - 10/30/07

In a word-of-mouth village, I like talking to hot chicks. Guess what kind of newscasters I watch?

3. Brian H - 11/6/07

Blogs are in the same space. Yon and Dollard are classic examples. It’s no coincidence that they’re reader-funded for the very high costs of their front-line reportage..

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