After 17 years as a journalist, I decided it was time for me to leave.
It was not so much a leap as it was a small step.
Or a funky dance move, if you will. As a journalist, making the decision to take a straight up commercial job (content, marketing, communication and pr, sales) is often considered crossing over to the dark side. This transition means that you will be using your powers for evil instead of good.
The skills you have acquired by reporting on complex issues in an understandable way will now be wasted on greedy businesses and money men. Your ability to make snappy headlines and intriguing cover titles, your secret ways of making people tell you how they really feel, the fact that you can extract the core essence of any long piece of bullshit in a matter of minutes — lost from the noble world of journalism forever.
It’s been said that it’s almost impossible to make the transition back once you’ve taken the leap. The doors slam shut behind you.
The money making business
I was not intimidated by this scenario when I made the choice to quit media. The business I was leaving behind had grown increasingly alike the one I was entering. But while the commercial aspect of the media industry was sneaking around in the shadows, it was out in broad daylight over in marketing country.
There is something very liberating about not trying to hide the fact that you are working to make money. Because even though it might come as a shock to people: The media has to make money too. And while consumers are less willing to pay for quality journalism and advertisers are moving elsewhere, they are getting desperate. And consumers are getting what they ask for: click bait.
Also there’s this whole new industry emerging from a dark corners of media: The content departments. The people who make content marketing. You know, the stuff that looks like news, but is paid for by some commercial brand. Actually, the content people don’t sit in dark corners at all. They are moving up to super trendy high tech offices. While the investigative journalists (if there are any left) are crammed together, being forced to tweet and write celebrity gossip while they are also trying to dig up the next great world saving exposé.
With all of this going on, it felt like a good time for me to join the dark forces. And you know what? It’s actually quite light over here. A lot lighter than in the cold darkness of the struggling media industry — that’s for sure. I am now one of the content people. And I mean that in both senses of the word.