Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Why tabloid journalism is all about campaigning

And how they benefit from content strategy

What are the commonalities and differences between journalism and public relations? It’s a frequently asked question. And the boundary between those two can be tiny.

How tiny this boundary can be at least in tabloid journalism, I experienced myself. I worked a few months for “Kronen Zeitung”, Austria’s biggest newspaper. It’s the epidome of tabloid journalism. And it uses aspects of campaigning. That’s what I realized, when I reflected on the lectures of my master’s program “Content Strategy” at FH Joanneum.

There are only a few lines to activism

There was one key event. It was the anniversary of the nuclear accident of Tschernobyl. The “Kronen Zeitung” also covered it through an article about the aftermaths on Styria. While researching on the topic, we discovered that there was an existing nuclear power plant near the Styrian boarder in the Slovenian town Krško.

My colleague visited the nuclear power plant together with an environment organization, which planned the trip to Krško. They showed him research on serious safety risk of the rather outdated nuclear power plant. When visiting Krško my colleague had similar impressions.

When returning back to the office, he talked to the chief editor about his trip. “We will do a campaign in order to shut this nuclear power plant down”, was his answer. I was one of the editors in charge of that campaign.

For about one month we published every day an article in the newspaper, which outlined the dangers of nuclear energy in general and the safety risks of Krško particularly. The goal was to collect signatures for the petition of the above-mentioned environment organization to shut down the nuclear power plant of Krško. In the end of every article there was a clear appeal to sign the petition.

Convey the message with content strategy

However, what does this all has to do with content strategy? A lot, if you take a closer look at it.

Just take a look at The Content Strategy Alliance’s definition of content strategy. It states content strategy as

“getting the right content to the right user at the right time through strategic planning of content creation, delivery, and governance.”

We followed a strategic approach in terms of planning our topics. It was also about the tone of voice. We had some standard phrases of how we called the nuclear power plant of Krško in order to emphasize the danger of it.

We also thought about the right channels and the right formats. For example, when I wrote an article about the biggest worldwide nuclear accidents, I created an interactive map for the online article.

Should journalism be about campaigning?

However, should journalism tell its readers what to do and what to think? Should it frame the opinion of the people? Should it prompt people to sign a petition? Or isn’t it its duty to enable its readers to make their own decisions?

There are many questions and answers. I draw a conclusion in terms of content strategy: Content strategy can be a powerful tool for journalism in order to reach its audiences across all channels at the right time. That needn’t — and in my opinion — shouldn’t have something to do with campaigning. The information in order to enable its readers to make their own decisions should be in the center. Content strategy should make sure that the people can be reached with the right format, at the right time, at the right place.

What do you think? I can’t wait to read your opinions. 😊

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