Alma Media > Releases > Releases > Living information > 2015 > Dear reader, let’s go content shopping!

Dear reader, let’s go content shopping!

When I was doing Media and Communications studies at the University of Helsinki years ago, I dreamed of becoming a journalist. I had a vision of a job that was grand – noble, even – as I considered journalists to be the watchdogs of society, and mass media was the fourth estate, writes Johanna Suhonen, Director of Content Sales at Kauppalehti.

The communications theory was still dominated by the idea formulated in the 1920s which considered the journalist as a gatekeeper who controlled what the public was told and what became the topic of debate. The journalist investigated and checked the facts and, above all, decided what was important and interesting enough to be published. In the end, I did not become a journalist.

I was in my first job when I realised how fascinating it is to try to influence the publicity behind the gate, using the means of marketing and various other methods of reputation management. I became a marketeer, a PR person, a trader.

However. Even if I had become a journalist, I’d still be a marketeer, a PR person and a trader. Publicity, which used to be a fenced and well-guarded area, is now a huge market bazaar open to absolutely everyone. Journalists are traders with their own stalls, inviting buyers to buy, readers to read.

The gatekeeper-journalists could rely on the power their particular medium had. The large media houses were respected, their value proposals well-known and they had a faithful audience that the messages were targeted to. Publicity is now available for everyone, and journalists must make an effort to reach their audiences. It is still in newspapers, news websites or channels but also in push notifications, in the content flow from news aggregators, links shared over Whatsapp or Facebook’s instant articles.

Readers have moved to global 24/7 channels, where the writers must find an audience for their stories without the prestige or ready-made channel of their own medium. It’s the headline that counts. “Kauppalehti quality at a Twitter price – read it now!”

All traders want to have regular customers and all journalists want to have loyal readers. When the next compelling story is just a click away, it is so much harder to keep readers faithful. At the moment, the hottest new job title at international media houses is the audience engagement/community manager, who can manage a team of dozens of journalists in some companies; the Financial Times is an example.

Those engaging audiences use the best online methods available to entice people wandering through the bazaar to explore the stalls further inside. Getting to know your readers, or your customers, requires talent; you have to know what they want all the time, every day, and be able to surprise them.

A satisfied customer or subscriber is the award that successful traders and journalists can expect. I wonder if I’d been disappointed while still studying to become a gatekeeper if I’d known what would happen. Maybe. But then again… High-quality content is valuable in itself.

Journalism that is based on facts and that widens horizons is a fundamental part of Western society and way of life. In order to create good content that finds the right audiences, we need to have profitable media houses, which have the suitable resources for creating, producing and marketing their content.

And even if a journalist’s job is much more challenging in the bazaar of global content, this smaller world now also offers a much richer well of topics and audiences. Whatever your story, you can always find contacts and material out there – and an audience. Talented journalists use these without hesitation and turn themselves into opinion-leaders and even brands in the process. And ta-da! The journalist is a gatekeeper again.