On ruffled feathers

30 Jan

I date a Strat Comm major, so I can’t say that I don’t like the advertising world, but I can say that I don’t necessarily understand it. Advertising feels to me like it operates on an entirely different wavelength than reporting, which is perhaps not what I like better but definitely what I’m more used to.

Maybe that’s why, when Padgett equated placing an ad next to a relevant story and writing a story for a relevant ad, I bristled.

I am not a defender of journalism. In a world where CNN tweets the wrong SCOTUS decision and the entire media falls for a fake girlfriend, how could I be? I am, though, a defender of my own ethical values. Despite my short tenure as a “real life reporter,” I’d like to think I’ve developed at least faint moral lines I refuse to cross professionally. One of them is selling out. To be blunt, I’ll be damned if I deliberately let corporate interests dictate my reporting.

Let’s be clear: I understand that many publications are, in and of themselves, dictated by corporate interests. That’s hard to avoid when about six conglomerates own an entire industry. But there is a difference between the powers that be and the wannabe powers. If you want play for a certain product, hire a copy writer. I’ll cover it as a reporter if it’s worth covering, i.e. if it’s in the public interest.

The clearest analogy I can think of  (ideologically, anyway) is the separation of church and state. In theory, laws have a clear benefit. Faith has only perceived value, and that value differs on an individual level. Same goes for news and advertisement – again, hypothetically. It’s not my job to sell a product or even to help sell a product*, just like it’s not the government’s job to sell a faith. (Whether they know that is an entirely different blog post.) My job is to relay information, in whatever format, to promote the community’s overall well-being.

Maybe that mindset will land me working for crumbs at some obscure non-profit. Be that as it may, I in all my rookie naivety believe I’ll be a better reporter for it. As Padgett suggested, my generation will draw new ethical lines for the industry. At the very least, I think I know where mine will be.


* – It goes without saying that I am trying to sell papers, which can be considered a product. We all know that’s not what I’m talking about.


One Response to “On ruffled feathers”

  1. Hannah January 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on ecjournomist and commented:

    In response to a guest lecturer, Stephanie Padgett, in Changing Media Business Models. In retrospect, I should probably try looking through a strat comm lens at some point, no matter how dirty it feels.

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