The traditional role of journalism as an editorial is very much at arm’s length different from paid advertising of the so-called ‘influencers.’ We can say that influencers can be journalists on their own platforms, but still, deep down lies a monetary relationship between an influencer and the brand. Some may argue that journalists are also being paid to deliver stories just like influencers. So where do we draw the line? Aim. Through their aims lies the difference between journalists and influencers. To tell the story while finding the truth is the journalist’s aim, although the same with influencers who also tell a story, the latter’s aim is to create noise or advocate for a brand. Clearly, there is a huge difference between them, and their primary difference lies in their audience, which we’ll tackle in this article.
Who are Influencers?
Before we go further, let’s first identify what makes an influencer. From the name itself, an influencer is someone who has the capabilities to make an impact on the purchasing decisions of a group of people who follow him or her on social media. The concept of influencer is not new in the minds of the people, although the definition of an influencer has changed in recent years. Nonetheless, before the emergence of social media, people considered celebrities, such as famous actors/actresses, musicians, or athletes, as influencers because of their paid endorsement of various products. But then with the boom in social media use over the last decade, it has led to a rise in a new type of influencer– the digital influencer. In contrast to celebrities who endorse various products through their established names, these digital influencers have earned their fame and money directly through the promotion of products and services to their online audiences, rather than first making their way into the spotlight through some other medium. It is said that this shift has made it difficult to identify the right influencer for a particular campaign because who holds the power of influence is different for everyone.
Influencers are being hired by companies because they tell a story that attains massive reach through the former’s various traditional and social channels. Now that there is an economic shift in favor of social media, people tend to adapt to that change. So companies want influencers’ wide reach to get their message out to everyone. The services they provide appeal more to companies because they can be quantified based on the number of posts, stories, videos, or podcasts that can be agreed upon by the parties. As long as you have huge numbers of people following you on social media, you can be hired by any company as an influencer to promote their products. However, the best companies will still be smart enough to hire influencers, not to blemish their product, but to tell an honest story.
Who are Journalists?
Journalists play a vital role in many areas of life, finding and presenting various information through their utmost effort in the search for the truth. According to one author, the purpose of journalism is not defined by journalists or the techniques they employ or any technology but rather by something more fundamental, that is the function which the news does in the lives of people. News is something that is so essential in every life of a human being that keeps us informed of the changing events, issues, and people in the world outside. The core value of news is a tool to empower the informed. Thus, the purpose of journalism is to provide the people with the information they need in order to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments. While indeed the online world made such significant changes in the way people communicate, nevertheless, journalism still occupies a much smaller space in that area yet is still perceived as having more value than most of the things out there. That value is deeply rooted in the very purpose of journalism– to find not just the facts, but as well as the truth behind the facts to provide people with corroborated information that they can use to make better life decisions. In short, a systematic process or a discipline of verification in order to bring compelling and trustworthy information to people. The journalist must place the public good above all else and use methods accordingly in order to gather and assess what he or she finds. Thus, delivering credible news could be considered one of the differences between journalists and influencers.
As stated above, influencers’ services can be quantified based on the number of their posts but this isn’t the case for journalists. Their services cannot be quantified, they publish their stories through newspapers, radio, or TV programs which can be hardly calculated the reach of the media they write or broadcast on. Also, they are not really free to control the angle or direction of their article because they are bound to the journalistic integrity of finding the truth and telling the story, from their own perspective. Hence, a journalist is being paid for the content by the publication or media broadcast channel and is not anchored in a monetary relationship.
The Difference Between Journalists and Influencers.
What differentiates an influencer from a journalist can be confusing in this modern day. Given that there is an overlap, still there are several fundamental differences between them. One of the primary differences between journalists and influencers isn’t about features like video, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms but it’s about the audience. Read more below to know a few similarities and differences between journalists and influencers.
For the content, journalists oftentimes have already a clear idea of what they’re looking for or a topic in mind for an article or assigned by the broadcasting channel. While influencers, on the other hand, need a clear idea of what a company wants from them, and then they can make an informed decision if the idea or product fits in with their image branding. They prefer working in a collaborative way with the business.
Journalists pour their precious time and utmost effort to find the truth and report it based on the facts of the matter. In contrast, influencers add their personal opinion, thus making their content more personal and can be subjective, unlike journalists who sees things objectively.
Journalists tend to cover more in-depth coverage of news that starts from their researching and reporting, even up to interviews and in accordance to the news media that they work for. Whereas influencers are not necessarily after newsworthy stories and oftentimes craft their messaging to fit their target audience. Further, they give out information based a lot on their own perspective. They are likely to write their own opinion and values in a piece regarding a product or service review from their own experience with no accountability and no responsibility. Hence, there is a difference between journalists and influencers in the type of content and coverage that they are writing.
The most obvious difference between journalists and influencers is through their medium or platform. Influencers, well it’s already given that their platform is online. It could be through social media channels or written only for their own website or blog. On the other hand, a journalist can be involved with various media platforms at the same time, including but not limited to television, print, radio, or even social media nowadays.
The Similarities between Influencers and Journalists
- Both provide coverage
As stated above is a huge gap difference when it terms to coverage, to which journalists are far-reaching from influencers. But still, despite having said that, both journalists and influencers could provide coverage, especially for small businesses to gain valuable exposure. Journalists could make a brief article regarding a small business that is thriving to help a family, perhaps, and make it newsworthy to get the sympathy of the audience. Meanwhile, influencers could use their impact in promoting the business and enhance its PR campaign helping it reach new markets.
- Role of social media
With the emergence of social media today, even journalists use that platform more often to engage with their audience. The use of hashtags to interact and be relevant is indeed useful for news to gain wide reach, especially now that a giant media network was forcefully shut down leading people to search for an alternative. Meanwhile, as a result of this emergence, the era of influencers was created.
Nowadays, social media has proven to have cost Filipinos a lot of time compared to the majority of all nationalities across the world. Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tik Tok, and Instagram are the leading sites that have been frequently visited by most Filipinos, making the country known as the Social Media Capital of the World. Bria Homes have an article that talks about the role of social media marketing in today’s modern age. Read it here: What Is a Social Media Marketer?
- Know your audience
The audiences between influencers and journalists are completely different, especially depending on the topics that are written about. Influencers worked hard to build a long-term relationship with their audience and the brands they talk about. Because of this relationship that the influencers have built, people in turn trust and value their opinion, just as they would a friend or family member. However, since influencers are typically dependent upon their relationships with brands and the income they earn with these brands, it’s hard to consider an influencer’s content as 100% unbiased, more so when the endorsements they make could effectively be paying their bills.
On the other hand, as mentioned earlier in this article, journalists are considered to be more objective in their work. It is because their role is to provide an unbiased perspective on current news and events, unlike the influencers who can be subjective most of the time. By nature, journalists are critical and investigative. They are constantly searching for truth in a story they provide to their audience.
Impact of Digitalization
One of the benefits of digitalization may be probably the convenience that it brings to the daily lives of people. And the business sector is arguably one of the major beneficiaries of digitalization because it paved the way for innovation and utilization of new processes in order to provide more effective and efficient goods and services to its clients. However, the real estate sector has come late to the party as it is one of the last markets to embrace technology. Nonetheless, digital trends in real estate have seen a major transformation over recent years.
Now, in a world turning into digitalization and thus demanding more free content, traditional media can be now seen struggling to survive and due to the economic shift in favor of social media, traditional journalism is slowly yielding to influencer-driven information, in which people were left with no choice but to ride on this trend. This results in the blurring of journalism and social influence which could be turned into an opportunity if will be used in a proper way. People will always need journalism and the factual stories that it brings but we should also accept that some funded influencers can also be trained in journalism to become trusted sources of authentic content. But, as stated earlier, this opportunity should be used properly because what happens today is that we focus more on fame or the impact of their influence rather than the weight of truth. While it is understandable that we need to embrace new approaches, nonetheless, it is still somehow the individual’s responsibility to go beyond what they see and not just believe everything they see on the internet. Be critical. Don’t get fooled by misinformation.
While it is true that technology may change, the trust that has been earned and nurtured over time will endure more than just a mere influence. At the end of the day, credibility in media coverage is still built upon the trust and loyalty of the audience.
The publisher of journalism – whether a media corporation answering to advertisers and shareholders or a blogger with his own personal beliefs and priorities — must show an ultimate allegiance to citizens. They must strive to put the public interest – and the truth – above their own self-interest or assumptions.
A commitment to citizens is an implied covenant with the audience and a foundation of the journalistic business model – journalism provided “without fear or favor” is perceived to be more valuable than content from other information sources.
Commitment to citizens also means journalism should seek to present a representative picture of constituent groups in society. Ignoring certain citizens has the effect of disenfranchising them.
The theory underlying the modern news industry has been the belief that credibility builds a broad and loyal audience and that economic success follows in turn. In that regard, the business people in a news organization also must nurture – not exploit – their allegiance to the audience ahead of other considerations.
Quantity and a lack of details rule the editorial process for influencers. Their priority is to churn out content as fast as they can to feed the click-machine and garner greater attention. By contrast, at least in theory, the process of writing a journalistic piece is supposed to be more rigorous, with a chain of production involving multiple layers of editors and sometimes fact-checkers, along with strict rules when it comes with dealing with brands.