“Content is King” is a somewhat hackneyed term, particularly in the age of feverish website development. However, as with most well-worn phrases, it has become a cliché for a reason: because it’s largely true. (Quite why it has to be so gender-specific is not known – “content is queen” would alliterate just as nicely, and “content is critical” would avoid the issue altogether…)
The issue of content has been in the news recently because my favourite actor, Kevin Spacey, urged the film industry, rather bluntly, though somewhat more eloquently, to “get with the programme” and to embrace new methods of content delivery, such as direct streaming via services like Netflix. He argues that many people would just as happily watch a film on an iPad as at the cinema and that, in his words, “It’s all content. It’s all story.”
It’s hard to disagree with the man (not least because I made a similar point about the art of storytelling never dying, regardless of the medium, in my own Profile Q&A on this very website). Personally, I now much prefer to watch a film in the comfort of my own living room, where nobody is kicking the back of my chair, where I can pause for a comfort break, and where I (usually) won’t stick to the carpet. The content is the same (or better, if you’ve bought the director’s cut), and my reasonably large TV and speakers are capable of replicating the cinema experience in lovely HD. I would be most grateful if film studios decided to put more effort into enhancing the theatrical experience in my own lounge.
The mainstream news media has faced a similar issue to the film industry, in that it is still adjusting to the new ways in which people want their content delivered to them. The critical part of this sentence is at the end because people still do want the content.
A common mistake is to assume that the popularity of Twitter means people only ever want, or have time, to read 140 characters. Nothing could be further from the truth – Twitter is an outstanding method of rapid content delivery, reaching global audiences instantaneously, but in many ways its best use remains as a conduit to better, deeper stories and messages hosted elsewhere. People, companies and brands all have stories to tell and the onus remains them to do so in an informative and entertaining way.