A few months ago, I wrote about the alarming rise of page-view journalism and content farms such as Demand Media and Associated Content, noting the negative effect they could have on the journalism industry.

As much as it pains me to say, apparently this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

As profiled in Ad Age, two of Hearst’s staple newspapers – The San Francisco Chronicle and The Houston Chronicle – have begun running content they’ve outsourced to Demand Media.

Sure, after reading the interview with Michele Slack from SFGate.com, the easy reaction is to write this off as just two papers that are looking to expand and doing whatever is necessary to give readers more local coverage.

After all, it’s just a small slice of the pie we’re talking about here. To quote Slack, “These kinds of deals actually help protect traditional newspapers.”

Really … how so?

Listen, I’m someone who will passionately defend the idea that great stories are best told through the type of in-depth, investigative journalism that made papers like The San Francisco Chronicle great in the first place. 

I also strongly believe that not all content is created equal. For me – and I have to believe a lot of people out there – quality still matters.

Why would ANY brand, especially one in the news/content generation industry, potentially dilute its most important asset? 

I don’t get it. To me, it’s like filling your tank with watered-down fuel.  You and your vehicle are headed for a breakdown.

And that’s the likely destination for communications vehicles that pump out low-octane journalism.

— Janet Tyler