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How close you are to the money should not mean a thing

“Show me the money!” is possibly one of the most famous movie quotes of all time but ironically enough, it’s a demand that most people seem to avoid like the plague. Most people have been brought up to believe it’s vulgar to focus on money, to ask questions about it, to care about the impact that it has.

Being close to the sourceBut there’s no denying that it does matter – especially in business and even more so in publishing.

There was an argument raised recently in response to an article we published on ‘journalists becoming brand journalists’, which questioned the integrity of our argument.

The point of the counter argument was that you can’t be impartial if you’re selling a product – and therefore you can’t publish journalistic content because the money-making aspect of business dictates the levels of impartiality.

While we completely agree that impartiality is integral to messaging we can also see how this seems to be an easier argument to make if you’re completely detached from how a business or publisher makes money.

One of the most fitting comments I have read on this subject was by a journalist who said that they “write what they please and leave it in the hands of their editor” – as if the editor is the voice of impartiality.

What they don’t see however is how much pressure the editor might actually be under from the publisher or from the advertisers. If the editor doesn’t please those that fund the paper, they will not make money. As journalists don’t tend to see this process they are left out of this equation, which is great for the content producing aspect of their job but it doesn’t mean what they write will be given the light of day or edited to suit an advertiser.

Being away from the source of the money shadows how you perceive the process.

The way businesses and publishers make money is also extremely different. A publisher’s income depends entirely on the content it produces – if they bash a particular company over and over for example they can wipe that business from their advertisers list. Totally fine if they have relationships elsewhere or are making good money through sales.

A brand on the other hand, sells product – and if their sales pipeline is healthy they really do have a lot of freedom to pursue content for the sake of telling a good story – the sales message in those instances comes second.

People who fight for integrity are usually quite far away from the source of the money and therefore it is an easier argument to make. But should this even matter?

Maybe being close to the source of the money makes it easier to see the lines and give you an edge when it comes to how to approach storytelling with impartiality? Or maybe the fact that money is involved is an impossible barrier to overcome?

We like to believe that if a business understands the importance of overing value to customers through content and not constantly selling to them the content it produces then it can have a really strong voice.

We also place a lot of value in accountability and what businesses do in the CSR space which adds some depth to the type of content it produces.

There’s so many ways to view this subject and we’d love to hear your thoughts?

 

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