May 7, 2013 by Tamara Piety
The Columbia Journalism Review in The Audit has this great piece called “Business Insider goes native” (perhaps not the best title for reasons unrelated to the subject matter; but that is a different post). The article exposes the interpenetration of editorial and promotional content in a column over at Business Insider. The subtitle sums up the thrust. “All but erasing the line between editorial and marketing.” (my emphasis).
Read The Audit piece here. Now this kind of stuff goes on all the time, but the sort of breathless, breezy tone by which this particular column at BI attempts to sell readers on the idea that “big data” is no problem and not to be scared of it, is particularly troubling. I am just back from a conference where I heard at least a few speakers argue that not only is “big date” not scary, but it is actually protected by the First Amendment. I find that notion even more troubling.
Ryan Chittum, a regular CJR contributor, put it beautifully: “No need to worry about the dehumanizing impact of giant, unregulated corporations mining your personal data to better manipulate you, it’s all Zip-A-Dee-Frickin’-Doo-Dah in Big Data Land.” Yep. That is about right. I hope Chittum is right that this is not the future of news, but I fear that it already is. This kind of thing is mind-numbingly common and sometimes harder to spot than this particularly clumsy effort by BI.