PressThink writes on one of the most important ideas of 2004 in journalism:
Content is an analytic term. It refers to the “stuff” media carry rather than the carriage system itself. We need a term like that. It’s not a leveler; it’s just neutral. I think what smart people mean when they “hate” the word content is they hate thinking about things in that way. We should talk about literature– not content.
It was another important thing said by Tom Curley, CEO of the Associated Press, in his big speech this year to the Online News Association: “Content will be more important than its container” in the next phase of Web development. “That’s a big shift for old media to come to grips with,” Curley added. “Killer apps, such as search, RSS and video-capture software such as Tivo — to name just a few — have begun to unlock content from any vessel we try to put it in.”
The means are there to unlock content from any vessel we try to put it in. Those vessels are the big media brands themselves, including the flagships of the press fleet. Here’s Admiral Curley telling them that news is becoming unhinged from “brand,” and so we who make news content have to re-locate where we brand it, and think about adding our voice at every step.
“Content will be more important than its container” is thus a disruptive idea in journalism. In a way it is similar to that cross-platform battle-cry in the software biz: write once, run anywhere.