I don’t think Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review, is going to be happy.
Rieder penned a viewpoint piece for USA Today last year that spanked the Obama administration for bypassing the media for its own channels of communications:
“The Obama administration is deep-freezing the news media because it can. It’s nothing new for administrations to try to control the narrative. But Obama is the first president to serve in the Age of Twitter. With extensive use of its Whitehouse.gov website and its fluency on social media, the administration can get its message out on its own terms, bypassing the middlemen and women.”
Not only has the Obama administration proved adroit in taking its story directly to its target audience, but now we discover that whitehouse.gov landed on the Techmeme Leaderboard on Dec 2. If you scroll down to the very end, you’ll find whitehouse.gov.
“We’re number 100” might not have a winning ring to it, but it’s yet another victory for the President’s comms team and owned media in general.
Step back for a moment and consider that the Techmeme Leaderboard strives to capture the top 100 online sources when it comes to driving tech stories. This is a big deal because the Techmeme algorithm essentially offers a surrogate for thought leadership in the tech sector.
The White House was one of those top drivers of tech stories on Dec. 2, Dec. 4, Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 (actually inched up to the 98the slot on Dec. 4).
Drilling down to the White House-created content, the press backgrounder reads like journalism starting with the absence of superlatives in the headline, “Strengthening Community Policy.”
And there’s zero hype in the narrative that calls out the investment in technology:
“The President also proposes a three-year $263 million investment package that will increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where DOJ facilitates community and local LEA engagement. As part of this initiative, a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body-worn cameras and requisite storage.”
Obama’s content guys get it.
While Techmeme’s founder Gabe Rivera was less sanguine about the White House achievement, maybe that’s because he already perceives the White House as a formidable “media property.”
Regardless, whether you call it owned media, branded journalism or stuff from the White House, the approach is only increasing as embolden organizations “diversify” their communications.
No doubt we’ll see more stories like “The Invasion of Corporate News” from the Financial Times, which lambastes organizations taking matters into their own hands. In the case of the FT, this line says it all:
“The attraction of ‘owned media,’ by definition, is that brands neither have to pay a media outlet for it nor earn it by convincing a reporter that the story is worth covering.”
Publications like the FT believe it’s zero-sum game. Those dollars that otherwise have come their way are now earmarked for owned media.
They’re probably right, although I don’t think owned media has reduced the White House’s advertising budget.