“What you're reading [in some cases] is corporate journalism, and corporate journalism of the worst kind – undeclared and laden with agendas,” she said. “It's wolf reporting in sheep clothing.”
On behalf of the positive, journalist, councillor and founder of Crikey Stephen Mayne turned the credibility argument back on the corporates.
Quoting famed QC Julian Burnside's line “whose bread I eat his song I sing”, Mayne said brand journalists would never dare criticise their masters unless contemplating career suicide.
“The credibility of corporates getting into journalism frankly is a bit of a joke,” he said.
In support, News Corp journalist and multiple-Walkley winner Rowan Callick said the ability of corporate journalism to produce excellence was hampered by its role as a mouthpiece.
“It's inherently contradictory,” he said. “Either the role is fundamentally corporate, or it's journalistic. Either you are promoting a corporation (however subtly or brilliantly), or you are writing without fear or favour.”
Speaking for the positive, Catherine Fox said as a journalist she would happily write for any organisation that was transparent and aligned with her values.
"Corporate journalism will never replace traditional media, but it is now a part of it,” she said.
The final word went to Trioli, who argued full disclosure to the audience removed any ambiguity around the morality of a message.
“If someone reading BlueNotes is fully informed about where it comes from, who funds it, who owns it and who its paymaster is, rather than it being hidden… then what's the problem?” she said.
The vote, perhaps influenced by the partisan crowd, in the end went in favour of the positive. But all in attendance were left with new insight into exactly who good stories belong to – everyone.