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Weingarten: "Brand this!"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by imjustagirl, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Second Thoughts

    Second Thoughts Active Member

    Great column.

    Branding is a result of the Gannett effect on journalism. Sounds like one of their corporate brain farts.
     
  2. jackfinarelli

    jackfinarelli Member

    Frank DeFord?
     
  3. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Do you think of him first as a columnist?
     
  4. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I love Weingarten's column, and he's pretty much exactly right -- well, almost. I tried for several years not to use the word "content" (although I always hated the word "articles," too). I still try to call the people who visit our site "readers," but invariably, "users" is part of my vocabulary, too.

    But there's a theme that runs through these threads, and there are usually several of them live on the first page of Journalism topics only. So I just have a mostly related thought about that.

    I got into the newspaper business because I love newspapers, and still do, and despite their best efforts to drive me away by doing things like putting the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final on 6C (and I'm not really much of a hockey fan, just on principal), I continue to subscribe to my local paper.

    But I also work in this business, and intend to retire in it -- and I've been online since August 1997.

    I understand the wistfulness over what we've lost. I miss those days, but they're gone, and they're not coming back. And pretending that they might isn't doing much good. Neither is denying the importance of things like "brand" for writers.

    I agree with Azrael 100 percent, and it's all just semantics anyway. You don't think Red Smith or Jim Murray or Breslin or Royko were brands? That's ridiculous. Of course they were. Their presence sold newspapers (well, you can argue of course that the NYT and LAT in its heyday didn't need Smith and Murray to thrive). Their columns weren't bylined "By Anonymous." Shirley Povich = Brand. Lupica = Brand. Albom = Brand. Blackie Sherrod = Brand. I could go on and on. And many of them never did a thing on TV.

    It's just a word anyway. The concept is indeed decades old -- that you have someone in your paper who people want to read and they can't read anywhere else.

    The difference between then and now is that those guys were all in newspapers and all you knew was the number of newspapers bought; nobody could really tell you with certainty on any given day how many people read Royko or whoever, but people felt that their presence mattered. So they were the stars of our business, and comparatively paid like it.

    Now, of course, I can tell you exactly how many people read every one of our columnists yesterday, and I can tell you how many people visit them regularly and how many people read them once, never to return.

    With all respect, Michael, there are now writers who are "brands" who are "poseurs" and those who aren't. And TV and radio are pretty much part of the equation for the writers on most big sports websites now. Doesn't make them bad or clubhouse problems -- it's just the way it is.

    If you've been around this business a long time, you might not like any of this, but it's the way it is, and wishing won't make it go away. Since I want to continue to earn a good salary and stay in a job I really love, I'm going to adjust and go with the flow. And again, whatever you want to call it doesn't matter: "Branding" our writers is part of the deal. Just is.
     
  5. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Damn. Next steak at Runyon's is on me.
     
  6. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  7. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    +1, SF. You summed it up beautifully. I knew I disagreed with the premise of Weingarten's column, but couldn't articulate why. You did it for me.
     
  8. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    This convinces me more than ever that the war is lost and has been over for awhile. If we're worried about "brands" in a business where journalism is supposed to be Job One, then all newspapers currently in operation are simply dinosaurs thrashing about in the tar pits.

    I'm not wistful for the "good ol' days" or lamenting their departure. What I'm saying is this: to me, a "brand" means a product. If you go to Starbucks for coffee, you like their "brand." If you do your gadget shopping at Best Buy, you like their "brand." As a consumer, you're shopping and spending at a place because you know what you're getting.

    Newspapers - granted, I'm talking perfect world or good ol' days - should only be concerned with presenting the news, investigating corruption and providing (semi) unbiased information. Certainly, papers have had "brand name" writers - Royko, Murray, Smith, etc. - but readers were never sure of what the "brand name" would deliver in his column. It might either please or piss off the reader.

    Chasing the reader/consumer with "concepts" or redesigns is like chasing smoke. It's been that way for 5-10 years now and the results are evident. Newspapers are dead, journalism is dying.
     
  9. Magic In The Night

    Magic In The Night Active Member

    I would suggest that journalists can build their brand all they want through Facebook or Twitter or other social media but there aren't that many of them who can actually make money from their own brand. They still need the financial backing of their newspaper or Web site.
     
  10. I don't get this outlook. I imagine a reporter would want to be known as a reliable source of information and an authority on his/her beat. If they fulfill their objectives, that's the meat of brand-building. Is that so horrible?

    The reason there's an increased emphasis on personal brands is because readers have ways to follow people they trust instead of papers. They don't have to align with one paper. They don't even have to align with a sports section. They can can set up Google Reader, Tweetdeck or Facebook to get their [Pro Baseball Team] news from Reporter X at Paper A, and their [Pro Basketball Team] news from Reporter Y at Paper B, if that's who they like reading more.

    That's where Twitter/Facebook/blogging etc. come in. It might be a pain in the ass to have to make yourself more available to readers, but that's also empowering. Your byline matters more than ever.
     
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Some would be surprised to find this is absolutely true.
     
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