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Rinse and repeat? Not me thanks

Being a former foreign correspondent I thought I knew everything about jargon in journalism. For example, you’d door-step a cabinet meeting, hoping to get a comment from a minister once they came out. A sub editor at Reuters HQ in London would sub, i.e. edit, your story. But little did I know about online jargon until I stumbled on something called: “Roundtable on navigating the shifting landscape of content production.”

I found the article on a website called Folio, which calls itself a “MediaPRO [sic] Community”. It was a discussion between six what I assume to be major players in online journalism.

The introduction sets the tone: “We’ve clearly learned that you can’t simply rinse and repeat print content onto other platforms …”

Rinse and repeat? I found out that this is a phrase taken from the shampoo industry, but why not just say that we’ve realised that we can’t just rewrite and republish a story somewhere else? If that is the meaning of course.

Here is another gem of a sentence: “The financial advisors in one vertical want their content in a whole different way than IT developers in another, and there are different life stages and cycles in the process.”

I would not even try to begin to interpret what that means in journalistic terms.

How about this one? “We are building a new economic model for journalism and that new economic model has to do with how we create content, which is based on the notion that we believe in what we call the ‘content continuum,’ that there are professionals who create content, there are marketers who create content and there are audience members who create content.”

Yes, and?

One thing that strikes me (on a third reading) is that although the article purports to be a roundtable discussion, very few of the points are picked up by the next speaker. Mostly each individual says his piece and ignores the others. Maybe that’s an important role for the jargon. We all sound important, but nobody conveys much in the way of meaning. It is conceited, but honour is nonetheless satisfied.

The article reads like the emperor’s new clothes to me. But what do I know about journalism?

I welcome your comments.

Rolf Soderlind

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