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March 14, 2007

The rise of "agenda" journalism?

John Stoehr

Seems the rest of the industry is finally catching up to us. USA Today reports that competition to "own" a niche in the journalism marketplace is forcing some reporters, like ABC's Bob Woodruff, take up a cause. Some feel this is a healthy sign of journalism's future. Others worry.

The "social journalism" that made Oprah Winfrey an international fairy godmother is the new rage in network and cable news, and it's expanding to other media. Increasingly, journalists and talk-show hosts want to "own" a niche issue or problem, find ways to solve it and be associated with making this world a better place, as Winfrey has done with obesity, literacy and, most recently, education by founding a girls school in South Africa.

Experts say the competitive landscape, the need to be different and to keep eyeballs returning, is driving this trend, along with a genuine desire from some anchors and reporters to do good.

In the process, some are becoming famous. And they're allowing news organizations to break away from the pack, as old and new media fight for viewers and readers, says Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

"News outlets have found they can create more momentum and more identity by creating franchise brands around issues or around a point of view," he says.

(Thanks to Peter Johnson of USA Today)

Posted by John Stoehr at March 14, 2007 6:06 AM

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