I hate the c-word.
Content. It refers to this huge murky cloud of online articles, video, photos, comments, Tweets, status updates, etc. And it’s a commodity without a price tag.
Despite its inherent supply and demand, it’s hard to identify a price or any proper way to value “content.”
In a recent study titled “How News Happens,” the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that of all the outlets that produced news in Baltimore, almost all of them simply repackaged or repeated previously published information.
Of the media that actually created new “news,” 95 percent of them came from traditional media — most of them newspapers.
The report triggered a number of questions, in particular: Is the real value of content found in original reporting — the stuff you mainly find in newspapers?
Let’s try a broader approach. There are three systems to consider, and each has a unique value attached to it:
1. Traditional “gumshoe” reporting: This is the bread-and-butter reporting that you find in newspapers and wire services. It’s the kind of stuff you learn in journalism school — how to source and produce your own original stories.
2. Social news reporting: Value is created in the shepherding of articles and links. Here, personal brands matter most as value is created in the person who forwards, links or seeds the dialogue in the community.
3. Commentary: This is the pinnacle of the personal brand. Commentators such as op-ed writers in the newspaper model add spit-and-polish to the newsflow by “value-adding” an expert view to original reporting.
Where are you creating value in the reporting that you do?
(Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center. Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, USN, Senior UNC Delegate, (left) with Rear Admiral R.E. Libby, USN, UNC Delegate, (center) examine a Chinese typewriter at the UNC Advance Camp)