11 Feb

Media Production without Content

Posted By Politybooks

Work in the media has always been associated with the production of content – making news, advertisements, movies, music, and so on.

One of the reasons why the shift to an all-digital, always-on media landscape poses such disruptive challenges to creative industries business models as well as media workers’ sense of their professional identity, is that it is quite possible that content in a digital age is anything but king.

Time magazine (of 11 February 2009) for example reports how “content, once king, becomes a pauper” as it gets devalued at a rapid pace without anything else seemingly replacing it – other than what Tiziana Terranova labels as the free labor of users producing culture (by generating content).

This is not a new insight. Andrew Odlyzko wrote (in a 2001 issue of the excellent First Monday online journal) about the primacy of connectvity over content, boldly declaring that content is, indeed, not King. This analysis has been echoed by various industry observers, suggesting that contact (Douglas Rushkoff) and communication (Dale Peskin) are king.

It is clear that “production” in a media work context today equals a delicate balancing act between creating compelling content and providing meaningful connectivity. This tightrope-walking (ostensibly without a safety net) must be set against finding ways to be creatively autonomous as well as commercially viable. This Content – Connectivity | Creativity – Commerce or “4C” model lies at the heart of understanding contemporary media work.

None of this is necessarily new – but all of this puts new pressures on how the people across the digital media industries (can) do their work, and what that work in fact means to them. For instance: I have yet to meet a first-year journalism student who claims she chose this career path out of a heartfelt desire to help people tell their own stories…