The Future of Journalism
For those of us working with or within the media, change isn’t a dirty word. In fact, change is something we all embrace, since our livelihoods are fuelled by the necessity to stay ahead of the game in an ever-changing environment. For journalists, however, things change at an even quicker pace. In the last decade, journalism was turned on its head thanks to social media and mobile technology. The next ten years are set to shake things up even more. But how? From snazzy 5G tech to hands-free news, here are the main trends and predictions for 2020 and beyond.
5G quickening the pace
While conspiracy theorists are busy fashioning tin foil hats, much of the media is welcoming 5G with open arms. The possibilities of a faster, more reliable mobile internet service means news will be even more accessible than ever before, whatever the format. The full scope of its impact, however, won’t be known until it’s more widespread (many cities are still waiting to be kitted out), and fancy 5G handsets become commonplace.
While a whopping 73% of news outlets reported feeling confident about their future prospects, a report by the Reuters Institute found that 46% of those respondents had a lack of confidence when it comes to journalism in general and in particular, the public’s interest. This could be attributed to a number of factors including damaging attacks on the media by influential politicians or the way certain sections of the media has reported the recent pandemic and civil unrest, and the resulting public distrust.
In the last decade, videos became an increasingly dominant format for online news stories. But that may be set to change. With a renaissance in podcasting over the last couple of years (trust us, everyone and their favourite YouTuber now has a podcast), it’s looking increasingly likely that the number of news outlets presenting their stories in audio form will continue to increase too. According to the Reuters Institute, the number of news podcasts rose by almost 12,000 between January and October last year, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
According to that same report, news outlets will be asking their readers to subscribe to premium membership models in order to view their content. While this might not appeal to the wider population, a limited pool of people willing to pay for high quality news content does exist. And this year, news outlets will be jostling for their money. Of course, since this isn’t a guaranteed way to success, advertising will also continue to play a vital role when it comes to generating income.
While subscriptions will be placing some news websites behind a pay wall, others will be requiring readers to register in order to view content. Why, we hear you grumble? Because of data. First-party data will be an asset to publishers, given new privacy regulations and web browsers offering less cookie support (cookies being those things that remember your activity on a website). While this has some benefits, such as offering readers a more tailored news service, it does risk walling off a large swathe of casual readers, who will no doubt get their news fix elsewhere.
Targeting news avoiders
Given all the doom and gloom in today’s world (especially in the last few months) and the resulting deluge of negative news, it’s probably no surprise that news avoidance is on the rise. Publishers are well aware of this, and it’s likely they’ll be using it as an opportunity to make some innovative changes over the next few years. So expect more upbeat stories, changes in tone, and news outlets engaging more with their readership.
Stories on stories
If you’re a sprightly 20-something, then the first thing you’ll think of when you hear ‘story’ won’t be a hard-hitting report on police corruption. It’ll be the 24-hour, self-destructing content feature popularised by Snapchat (and later adopted by other social media platforms such as Instagram). Publishers have already started using Stories to promote their articles. And with the ‘swipe up’ feature (which automatically takes the viewer to the appropriate web page) it’s only a matter of time before everyone’s on the bandwagon.