A Thin Line Between Marketing And Journalism

innovate.jpgThe Innovation International Media Consulting group, like other media consultancies, used to have a place in the media field. It was not unusual for papers or magazines to bring in outside agents to help identify issues and drive content, with an emphasis on marketing strategies and advertising. And it’s also not unheard of in publishing to have consultants push editorial in a certain direction to maximize readership. None of this is new business.

What is new, however, is when consulting companies like Innovation decide to rebrand themselves as a news org, without creating a clear distinction between their marketing services (and the clients who may have this company on their payroll), and objective journalism. Then things start to get a little bit complicated.

Last night, we noticed a funny blip on our RSS feeds about a new blog What’s Next: Innovation In Newspapers, which to their credit is very obviou about being run by the same Innovation that does media consulting work. But this side project, young as it may be (it’s hard to figure out the purpose of the blog when their About page isn’t even working yet), is crossing boundaries. Is it a news blog about the world of media consulting? Is it an Innovation newsletter about newspaper innovations, marketed to other consulting groups? Already, our heads are starting to spin.

The site aligns itself with a blogroll that includes foreign correspondents from a variety of countries, including The Columbia Journalism Review, AFP, and the Poynter Institute, which to us implies that Innovation plans on either a) begin their own journalism news feed or b) create a blog whose sole purpose is to give accolades and recommendations to publications that they deem “innovative,” which, again, seems slightly ridiculous for a consulting group that is getting paid to market certain publications. Though their actual website makes it seem as if they publish an Innovation newspaper as well. So, is the blog a thinly-veiled attempt at promoting their clients, or a corporate newsletter/site that just so happens to be sneaking into news media aggregation sites?

Let’s hear in the comments: Is Innovation pushing boundaries with their Innovation in Newspapers blog, or is this marketing business as usual?