Pew Research shows a continued “erosion of news reporting resources” coinciding with greater opportunities for people and companies to take their stories directly to the public, unmediated by traditional journalistic vetting. “In circumventing the media altogether, one company, Contently, connects thousands of journalists, many of them ex-print reporters, with commercial brands to help them produce their own content, including brand-oriented magazines,” Pew writes. “In early March, Fortune took that step, launching a program for advertisers called Fortune TOC—Trusted Original Content—in which Fortune writers, for a fee, create original Fortune-branded editorial content for marketers to distribute exclusively on their own platforms.”
It’s a new era of managing the message, which alarms a lot of concerned citizens who reasonably want to trust the information they receive. But there is also now a mass of critics to parse those messages, which should result in a higher bar for veracity than what a lone reporter could hope to raise. Those critics are the public which has been “directly reached.” That’s the hope, anyway.