ShiftCentral / Making 'content' matter

Making 'content' matter

“Content” is a word that gets tossed around a lot. It’s an umbrella term that leaves a lot to interpretation, and for writers like myself and my colleagues, finding the right meaning behind the word, and using it properly, can cause a lot of headaches.

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan, in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, said the word was a “reductive term,” which “pretends to elevate the creative, but actually trivializes differences of form that have been important to creators and audiences alike.”

From a creative standpoint, the word content can be synonymous with “filler” or “padding” – it runs the risk of offering no innovation or creativity – it’s simply, as Nolan puts it, whatever can be imported to any screen, be it a computer, smartphone, billboard or movie theatre.

For analysts and editors like us, the challenge is in making sure our writing doesn’t feel stale or lifeless. In a strange way, we need to take our cues not only from journalists and researchers, but from artists and storytellers. Tracking markets and trends sometimes requires a certain artistic flair to make the information engaging. When writing about a news story, don’t reduce it to mere “content,” engage your reader with a story, and they’ll keep coming back for more.