Do Journalists Need to Be Brands?
Trick question. You already are one, whether you want to be or not.
This week’s intra-mural media kerfluffle revolves around backlash to the idea that journalists need to be brands themselves — apart from the institutions they work for. It was precipitated by an article in Insider about The New York Times and retention problems potentially caused by the Times’ approach to outside projects.
At the center of this conversation on Twitter were two high-profile Times journalists, Maggie Haberman, and Taylor Lorenz, the latter of whom recently left the Times for The Washington Post. The short version of what happened is that Lorenz pointed to the Insider article (in which she is quoted) and affirmed that it’s important for younger journalists especially to develop themselves as brands and Haberman responded by accusing Lorenz of attention-seeking, and a host of other established journalists chimed in with whatever the Tweet equivalent is of a vomit emoji, mostly triggered by the word “brand” but also by the dynamic at play between Lorenz and Haberman.
Some Inside Baseball, for Context
This is all very inside-baseball, but frankly, if you’re reading an article titled, “Do Journalists Need Be Brands?” you’re the kind of person already has strong opinions on the topic and knows who both Haberman and Lorenz are, so I’m just going to unapologetically lean into media navel-gazing here. And I’m going to take a side: I believe Lorenz is correct, and Haberman’s repulsion by this idea is partly a function of the fact that despite having a high-profile book deal and a constant stream of TV appearances, she believes that she is not branding herself, and that her work is just doing all of this on its own. She also has no idea what it’s like to face the kind of job insecurity people Lorenz’s age do, and barring some Jayson Blair-level scandal will never ever be fired or laid off by the Times. She is also well paid, which is not true of everyone who works at the Times, especially on…