Recently, I came across an article on TechCrunch that really struck a nerve.

In a nutshell, it talks about how the rise of “fast food content” is threatening to destroy the livelihood of content creators on the Web. (It’s worth noting that the people most at risk are the same people who benefitted from the struggles of traditional news media.)

There’s no doubt that the online content model is evolving. Even the Miami Herald recently announced it is accepting online donations for digital content.

However, the TechCrunch story envisions a day when people will be forced to consume cheap, mass-produced, search engine-driven content up to five times a day.

What this statement fails to take into account is one very important factor … our intelligence. 

Sure, we can all justify a fast food indulgence every now and then (e.g., celebrity gossip).

And in virtually every category, the natural evolution of business includes providers who grab the audience’s attention for a period of time with low cost, low quality products. 

What’s happening now is this trend has finally reached the news and information sector, where it’s further empowered by the lower "publication" costs of digital channels.   

Eventually, I believe readers will see “fast food content” for what it is … something that might briefly satisfy a hunger, but lacks in essential nutrients. 

Because when the issues being reported actually matter to the reader, there is absolutely no substitute for quality – whether we’re talking about news and fresh insights on a particular topic, product reviews, or the best place to find locally grown fruits and vegetables.

The challenge we face as storytellers is to better define and understand our audience – who they are, what they like, and how they like to consume information.

The rest is just noise.

— Janet Tyler