Pardon our blunt headline, but now that we have your attention, we’ll admit the answer may land somewhere in between the two. Running the gamut from pure entertainment (Chipotle’s Farmed and Dangerous mini-series) to hard news (a New York Times investigation of female inmates under the paid post banner of “Orange is the New Black”), content marketing boasts a wide spectrum of forms and formulas, sharing only the common thread of branding repackaged as something else--usually, something much more appealing. In an attention-deficient era where readers and viewers are increasingly difficult to keep around, the appeal here for news is obvious. Far be it from us to engage in any pearl-clutching or hand-wringing, but this observation then begs the question: Is content marketing coming to the rescue of journalism, or just the opposite? As a recent headline in the Columbia Journalism Review asked, “Should journalism be worried about content marketing?” Accompanied by a memorable cover photo of a wolf barely disguised as a sheep, the article goes on to pose another question: “Should we worry more about content marketing when it takes on issues that also are fodder for serious journalism ...?” Or should we embrace content marketing as simply the latest evolution in advertising, a field with which journalism has always enjoyed an awkward--if necessary--tango?
We’re pleased as punch to announce that our next #MuckedUp guest journalist is the author of that piece, Michael Meyer, a senior writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. At CJR, Meyer explores a wide range of topics facing the media industry, and his writing for the magazine won the Mirror Award for Best Commentary in 2014. Previously, he ran the Guide to Online News Startups, CJR.org’s project chronicling digital news outlets. Media consultant James Breiner has called him “one of the few people paying close attention to business models of new digital media.” With Meyer joining us, we hope to get to the bottom of the content marketing quandary. Got a question for our guest? Tweet or email it to me by the end of the work day Monday, and we’ll do our best to incorporate it into Tuesday’s discussion! While you’re at it, help us spread the word by clicking here, then join our chat by following the #MuckedUp hashtag on Twitter this upcoming Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST.