Media Literacy 101: Be Sold, But Not Fooled

by | Dec 11, 2014


I met Faris Yakob of Genius Steals at a conference hosted by Henry Jenkins at MIT a number of years ago. I recall being pleased that he was familiar with AdPulp. And it was fun to rap with someone I’d only known from afar at the time.

This morning, I learned that Faris wrote an opinion piece on content marketing for Campaign’s new U.S. site.

He notes that people are getting lost in semantics whilst searching for the definitive definition of the marketing practice. Here, let’s have a brief look:

One of the most often voiced is that content is not appropriately labelled — that its intent to commercially persuade the audience is veiled, which disrupts the church-and-state boundaries of editorial and advertising, and erodes the trust of the consumer in the publication, and indeed, in content overall.

One of the first things you would learn, if not the first thing, in a media literacy class is that no piece of content is objective. Everything comes with a point of view and looks to persuade you of that point of view, explicitly or otherwise.

No piece of content is objective, or neutral. I love that Faris is beating this particular drum. Journalists are not saints doing the work of a higher power. They tell news stories to make their publishers money. Just like copywriters in service to brands.

The promise of content marketing is simple. Brands who mine a substantive topical vein can connect in a real way with people by becoming the ultimate source, or the source with the best reporting, photography, videography and so on. Brand marketers have deep pockets for such coverage. Media companies do not, which means there is a vacuum that brands can fill for their benefit and the benefit of all.