How Do We Measure "Meaningful" in the World of Digital Content


By Jaylin Paschal

For a long time, when people asked me what I wanted to "do" in journalism, I told them I wanted to write "meaningful" stories; to create content that matters and share work that made an impact.

Now, I'm not so sure of what that even means.

Here on Creative Liberation, I've covered a lot of topics. Some posts "matter" more than others; some are more important. But it's hard to trace what exactly is meaningful to my readers.

How do you measure meaningful on platforms like this? From likes? Clicks? Retweets? Shares? Comments? Maybe. But often the articles people come up to me on the street to talk about have no measurable engagement beyond page views.

A shared principle in the digital content industry is the prospect of cutting through the clutter. It's clear that online content that is truly impactful is able to separate itself from the millions of posts published every week. But how do you ensure your work elevates above the rest?

Subjectively, here are the criteria I want my work to meet in order to be "meaningful" in my eyes:

1. Cultural Connections are made. I want my work to tie together aspects of various cultures to highlight the nuances society operates within. [Hip Hop + Culture + Politics]

2. Original ideas or alternative perspectives presented. I attempt to either contrast unexpected cultural elements or present new ideas in order to ensure I'm not just regurgitating the same information you can find on any culture site.

3. Relevant. I aim to cover relevant topics that influence the daily lives or internal thoughts/understandings of my readers.

4. Genuine interest or perceived significance. In an avoidance of clickbait, I write about what matters to me. I try not to focus on covering trends simple to gain more views/likes.  [No Gimmicks.] I also try to have integrity in the sense that I don't share "unpopular opinions" just to get a rise out of people. If anything I say is controversial, it's something I truly believe. [Provocative, but tasteful.]

Even still, these are not measurable principles. All of them are either met or missed based on one's own point of view.

Creating digital content, especially more your own platform, really comes down to trusting your gut. It's your space, so what matters to you should--and, if the content's good, will--matter to your readers.

Jaylin PaschalComment