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Is content a dirty word?

To many in the editorial and wider media world, ‘content’ has become a dirty, even hateful, word. Separated from form or style, content has become a cheap, fungible commodity, bought in spadefuls of words. It’s shovelled into website pages to keep the SEO furnace firing, then hawked out to overwhelmed readers through email and social media channels with all the veracity of a dodgy car dealer.

Of course, it’s not all like that. There are rivers of fresh, imaginative and purposeful content out there. But like any commodity in super-abundance the whole entity loses value the more ubiquitous it becomes.

Why then would serious, talented writers, journalists, editors, interviewers and filmmakers want to be in the business of making ‘content’?

The answer is that it’s the only good word we have for that thing that brings them all together. Whatever message, idea, information or challenge their work puts forward, the printed page or website or video that contains it is just the vessel, what really matters is the content.

At its best, content with substance is just about the most valuable commodity we have.