In a (somewhat elliptical) post in June, I shared my view about the likelihood of an ad-supported model saving journalism:
"It seems clear to me that ad-driven (traffic) strategies for online journalism are unlikely to generate enough revenue to sustain a high-quality effort. The financial success of traffic-driven sites masks an overreliance on free labor and opinion disguised as expertise."
If there was ever a strong argument against ad-driven traffic strategies, it might be found in a recent ZDNet post, “The changing role of PR in the era of pageview journalism”. There, Tom Foremski riffs on a New York Observer post by Ryan Holiday to ask:
“Can PR companies drive traffic to a story that I write? If they can they are golden. Reporters will take their calls over any others.”
The opportunity available in traffic-seeking news sites isn’t a quiet secret among public relations professionals. It should be a loud wake-up call for sites built on a traffic strategy.
To be clear, I’m not looking for stronger codes of ethics. I think Foremski makes a clear case for disruption. If a PR effort can create more traffic than a news operation, why bother with the journalist?