Following the debate at BJIT last Thursday, I was surprised by some old-fashioned statements that certain panel members put forward. What struck me the most was that not all communication professionals are convinced of the added value of new media for both journalists and media companies as a brand.
The debate got heated when Pol Deltour, national secretary of the Vlaamse Vereniging van Journalisten, stated that Twitter is a threat to the journalist’s personal brand and a danger for the credibility of the media he is working for. In his eyes, social media changes the way journalists are perceived: as marketers rather than journalists. But haven’t journalists always been marketers? Aren’t we, in fact, all marketers of our personal brand? Like Alain Gerlache, journalist at RTBF, says: “Journalists are a brand”. They are the face of a media channel! People read newspapers because journalists are writing qualitative articles about topics that interest them in a way that pleases them.
Traditional media shouldn’t worry, good content is still king. But the game has become more complex. Accept the fact that scoops no longer exist as speed is the new normal in a world where people are 24/7 confronted with an information overload. Have faith in your journalists. They are capable of using the same common sense they use in their stories online! So please, embrace new media as a way to leverage the brand.
Frankly, I can’t possibly think of a better way than to let journalists syndicate the good content they and their colleagues produce and engage in a discussion afterwards. This leads to more active engagement from the audience and helps build long-term relationships with them as a consumer. Rather than fearing new media, journalists and media companies should try to use them strategically to leverage their (personal) brand, build credibility and establish authority.
Just so you know, Reuters’ social media policy embraces the fact that journalists have (a desire for) a personal brand.