Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Not at all content

I'm a journalist, I like words as a general rule, but there's one I have a problem with: "Content".

At some point, probably while I had my back turned, it became acceptable for this industry that prides itself on plain English to stop discussing columns, copy, video footage, photographs and graphics and instead talk about "content".

If we must have a pointless umbrella term can we at least have a sensible one like, oh, I don't know, "news"?

A friend told me I was being precious when I ranted about this to him, but I disagree.

It's not that I don't understand that one day it's news the next day it's fish and chip wrappings - or some kind of online metaphorical equivalent - but I still think the c-word does journalists and our readers a disservice.

The word means everything and nothing and it's a euphemism of the worst kind that illustrates the muddled, navel-gazing that the industry succumbs to when talking about online journalism.

It's as though someone, somewhere has decided that because the new-fangled interwebnet2pointzero is here we need "content" - not cracking video footage, pics that generate hits or Pulitzer prize prose - to publish on it.

"Content" has a one size fits all ring to it, and the whiff of costs and corners cut and that's my other problem with the use of the term.

Brilliant reports, in any form, require an investment of time, talent or training - it can't be done on the cheap.

You shouldn't go slopping it about like Amy Winehouse trying to pour Sambuca shots, and no decent online editor does, so why use a term that makes it sound like we do?

It's time to relegate the phrase to manager speak and press officer babble where it can take it's place alongside "going forward", "cascade", and "synergy".

Class dismissed.


xxNapoleon Solo said...

You are spot on. Let's have a thought disco to see what blue sky thinking comes up.

Lalalaura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lalalaura said...

"Thought Disco" - wouldn't that be a great album title? You should record it Mister Solo.

Beard v World said...

I'm not content with your semantic assumptions about the word 'content'.

I might have to reply by blog post...

I take your point that the word generalises and homogenises, but it is not only real-world practical, but also necessary. Unless you want to steal a nice french word that appeaes your injured artistic pride (we could try 'oeuvre'), I think that what you're really upset by is crap journalism, and it's proliferation across most of the internet. And there I'd probably find myself agreeing.

Beard v World said...

please take it as read that I can spell 'appeases' normally.

Beard v World said...