I have a friend who started his career almost 30 years ago as a journalist. Today, he is a PR professional who isn’t quite convinced that the world of journalism and marketing has been fundamentally changed by the onslaught of social media. I have one word for him: BLAGO!

I live in Chicago, which sits in Illinois, the “brown-bag-over-the-citizens’-heads” state Almost more than any other place except perhaps Louisiana, our politicians are regularly charged with corruption and do the perp walk straight to prison. Whether that is the fate of our impeached and recently convicted Governor Blagojevich remains to be seen.

His recent conviction on one count of lying to the feds and the hung jury on the remaining 20+ counts is the country’s side show and our three ring circus!  Local Chicago media lead with the story every day and cover it in every granular detail. Jury consultants and trial jury members practically have their own TV shows and radio slots. The national news is beginning to ebb but for the most part the online news media has become the BLAGOsphere.

The most interesting journalistic phenomenon to emerge from all the coverage was the new media definition of man-on-the-street interviews. The other morning, one local network affiliate threw the trial coverage to a reporter who was getting reactions from the locals. The set-up for the piece was something like, “And, now Susie Sunshine has reaction from Illinois residents. She’s on the plaza in front of our Michigan Avenue news center.”

Imagine my surprise when the camera cut to Susie. She was indeed on the street, but not standing next to real people ready to opine. Instead, she was in front of a news van. On it’s hood, she had balanced a laptop open to the station’s Facebook page. She proceeded to run her finger under posts as she read them aloud. After reciting four comments, she proudly proclaimed, “And that’s how our local citizens view yesterday’s verdict.”

Wow. That’s the newest school version of the man on the street interview I have seen to date.   I think the fourth estate has officially entered the fifth dimension. I wonder what my old school journalist pal thinks.

Kathy Baughman
Kathy Baughman

Kathy’s forte is enterprise content strategy, content marketing and thought leadership. Over the past 40 years, she has worked with both emerging brands and large enterprises in developing content and thought leadership strategies. She has written several research reports, white papers and has been a key contributor to Forbes Publish or Perish Report.