I wrote a blog post this morning about personal branding in journalism, responding to a column Gene Weingarten had written for the Washington Post, claiming that branding was ruining journalism. Weingarten was responding to an inquiry from a journalism student he identified only as “Leslie.” In a comment on my blog, Owen Youngman, a journalism professor at the Medill School at Northwestern University, identified himself as Leslie’s professor, though he, like Weingarten, protected her identity. He also quoted from her paper. I asked Youngman if he would tell Leslie that I’d like to publish her paper. So Leslie Trew Magraw, a Medill master’s student, sent me this research paper, with permission to publish it. I have added links and made a small edit or two, but otherwise, this is Leslie’s work.
Update: Youngman has blogged about this, too.
Update: I used Storify to curate discussion of this issue on various blogs and Twitter.
Update: I have blogged about my own personal branding strategy.
Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.
As any good brand practitioner will tell you, brand health is all about diversification — making sure you’re not a one-trick pony. Gene Weingarten is no one-trick pony. He’s more like an onion – that can make you laugh just as easily as he can make you cry. Like a satisfying meal, he sticks with you.
Though he is perhaps most widely known in the DC metro area for his weekly humor column in the Washington Post’s Washington Magazine called “Below the Beltway,” Weingarten is also a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for serious feature-length journalistic work.
Everyone I polled (and I quizzed more than 25 people and spoke to four others at length), knew who Weingarten was and had a fairly strong opinion of him. Most people had a soft spot for him, at the very least. Others were Gene fanatics – and a small minority thought he was overrated (As my publisher friend, Alex Orr, put it: “I think he’s a generally unfunny, unoriginal hack who holds onto his job only because he’s been there so long that folks now overlook the question of whether his work is any good and instead embrace him as a ‘beloved’ fixture in the DC journalism world.”). That his name inspires instant recognition and triggers such powerful emotional responses suggests a robust brand power. (more…)
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