And how are private interests trying to manage news now?

While news organizations have been shrinking, corporate journalism has been growing. The number of corporate public relations specialists increased from 166,000 in 2004 to 202,500 in 2013, five times the number of newspaper reporters that year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And they have been increasingly working in corporate newsrooms that produce, in addition to traditional advertising and press releases, their own news-like stories and videos that appear as "sponsored" or "brand" journalism" in newspapers and on news websites and social media.

These corporate journalists have sources inside their companies, to whom the news media are often denied access, and the resources to produce sophisticated print, visual, and digital storytelling with subtle brand references that can be difficult to differentiate from other journalism. For a couple of months in late 2014, the marketing department of Verizon Wireless experimented with a news-like website, called SugarString, full of Verizon-produced stories for consumers about mobile communications and digital technology, with only small "Presented by Verizon" labels at the bottom of the web pages.

Many newspapers and digital media—from The New York Times to Buzzfeed—have started their own money-making "content marketing" staffs, working separately from their newsrooms, to produce branded journalism for advertisers and other corporate clients that mimics news content. In this way, corporations are able to pay news media to produce what amounts to advertising but looks almost like news on their digital sites. The New York Times brand advertising staff, T Brand Studio, for example, has produced subtly branded print and digital journalism for Dell, Netflix, and United Airlines, among other clients.

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