Dec 20, 2010

Groupon envy turns minds mushy

Advertisers love stories that conflate what they do with journalism, and the Atlantic's Elizabeth Weingarten delivers in her column about the Groupon academy - where writers learn to produce compelling ad copy and then tell themselves they're doing "hybrid journalism-advertising". From the story:
"Groupon really functions like a newspaper," said [Groupon Editor Eddie] Schmid, who worked briefly at the Chicago Sun-Times. "And that's really invigorating. There are dedicated stages, and teams that are really focused on making sure things are factually accurate, transparent, and funny."

But unlike most newspapers, Groupon is expanding rapidly. This year, the site expects to bring in more than $500 million in revenue. It might be the fastest growing company in the history of the Web, sending a clear sign that there's a market for creative writers -- and the type of hybrid journalism-advertising prose Groupon has perfected.
First off, newspapers could stand to learn how to be more funny and transparent (and, in some cases, accurate).

That said, just because the two enterprises use the written word as their means of communication and try to be accurate does not mean they have a hybrid relationship. Police reports also use written words and try to be accurate, but that doesn't make what I do hybrid journalism-law enforcement work.

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