Just Who or What Is `Mainstream Media’?

Lately, there has been much discussion and debate on my Medill School of Journalism alumni list-serv about what constitutes “mainstream media.”

Of course, the phrase is often used in the context of claims that the aforementioned nebulous institution is biased, out-of-touch and worthy of tongue-lashings from all quarters.

On a related note, someone recently got huffy with Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out source-and-storyteller matching service. The reason they unsubscribed from his so-called HARO: he was including too many source requests from bloggers in his thrice-daily (Monday-Friday) outreach.

To me, much of it shakes out thusly: what influence and impact does a given entity–whether it’s a person, a website, an organization, or whatever–have on your target audience?

In some cases, a blog with a relatively small, but intensely interested, passionate and motivated following, can represent a much better and more relevant “hit” than a national publication with a huge, but diffuse, reach.


Anyone seeking to increase their sales, their profile, or otherwise attain a goal needs to intelligently assess the entire landscape of communications outlets–and it’s growing bigger and murkier by the hour–and then make thoughtful decisions about where to devote its story-telling resources.

Today’s mainstream may well be tomorrow’s footnote, and today’s alternative media may well be tomorrow’s mainstream.

Terminology aside, if you’re a publicist, this is my bottom line: If your media outreach list isn’t constantly evolving, then you’re not paying nearly enough attention.

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