Saturday, 6 June 2009

The egg that lays itself: When the advertising is the thing that attracts the eyeballs


It's that age old debate which has rumbled on in newsrooms around the world: Which department is most important, editorial or advertising?

Ad staff obviously say they are the engine of the operation bringing in the wages with the column inches they sell.

Meanwhile, the journalists say you won't have any advertising without the quality penned journalism.

Chicken or egg anyone?

When the egg can lay itself, who needs the chicken.

As fewer and fewer eyeballs are boring into our pages, does that mean the journalism is any less good?

But online there's eyeballs galore - but are they looking for quality journalism? Or are they looking for the latest news on the soaps, girlie pic galleries, etc?

And then you look at what online services and products the major 'news' organisations are launching online. Business directories. Credit card services. Etc. Etc.

Traditional newspaper-style display ads like banners and buttons just haven't brought in the revenue. So news companies are now widening their sights.

In the case of business directories, news company advertising departments are going back to the tried and trusted - local advertising for local people.

But the trouble with service-based advertising is that the service itself is the attraction.

If I want a local florist I'll go to the business directory and find myself a florist. I don't want to read articles about florists, or read how one local florist has been named chairman of the local Rotary Club - I just want the flowers and then go back to searching for the latest Hollyoaks news.

Our quality journalism is now no longer the thing that attracts the eyeballs to the advertising.

So as news companies move from 'news' to 'service', how long will it be before someone at the top of the tree (more often than not someone who isn't a journalist) asks themselves, just why do we go to the expense of having journalists?

... just a thought.

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