Friday, May 03, 2013

The death of print and the birth of content strategy

"One value of the editor is clear: making writing better. At its most mechanical and least prestigious, that’s the proofreader; at the intermediate phase of prestige, that’s the copyeditor, achieving consistency, continuity, grammatical accuracy, ideally dialing into the author’s deep style and maximizing it; and there’s the acquiring editor, at the highest level of prestige, who may or may not engage in developmental editing, may or may not have junior editors, may or may not be a junior editor herself, who makes product decisions, what to publish, how to optimize it as a product, and in concert with many, many, many others, gestate and birth and raise it in the world.

Ironically, the first two categories of activity, while the least prestigious, have a very clear value, and will likely serve as means of employment for decades to come as more social and economic actors (consumer-goods companies, white-collar professionals, advocacy groups, cultural institutions) become de facto publishers, producing ever more sophisticated publications online and offline, designed to deliver their message (buy it, donate to it, believe us, hire me, visit us, vote for me). Most probably they will seek individuals who can accomplish the first two activities, along with some of the third activity, and they will be called content strategists. This is especially clear in the world of magazines and newspapers. Companies once let magazines and newspapers take care of aggregating the audience they wanted to reach, and paid them to advertise in front of that audience. They now realize it is far more effective to hire the kinds of people who work for those magazines to deliver the message directly."