News Consumption is Changing - Again!
Newspapers are dead, traditional news media is dying, so what's the future?
The future of the news media is at best confusing. Generations are bifurcating. Bipartisanship has eroded media independence. Trust has been lost. The newspaper is dying. Traditional news brands are struggling. So what’s the future?
A bit of background
TV remains the platform used most often for news, followed by social media and talking to family. For the younger generations social media is key.
Recent Pew research revealed that amongst U.S. adults there is mixed evidence about the public’s understanding of newer forms of media and news. U.S. adults are broadly familiar with technologies like streaming devices or services, podcasts and news alerts. At the same time, though, many do not seem to use most of these for news consumption, and results suggest that many do not even think of these new forms as ways to get news.
Additionally, as news consumers navigate an information environment that includes news aggregators and social media feeds, confusion abounds regarding the original source of reporting. Only 9% of U.S. adults are very confident that they can tell if a news organisation does its own reporting.
It is possible that consumers care less about the original source of news due to a growing lack of trust in the media. As this trust continues to erode there will be opportunities for new entrants and different approaches.
TV streaming services are likely to offer news as an extension to their already in-demand documentary programmes. Equally, we might see trusted technology brands like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook doubling down on the action.
Local news is gettibg disrupted by all-digital startups with multi-channel offerings (articles, podcasts and video) supported by subscriptions and sponsorship rather than advertising.
The trust equation
Trust is the big issue with existing media providers. Their relentless focus on bipartisanship and click chasing to shore up declining revenues has eroded consumer trust. Their readers no longer believe that they are independent outlets for factual reporting.
Business news has been taken over by corporations, consumer news by celebrity stalking, and political news by leaks, lobbyists and increased government influence.
The trust equation is creating the right environment for the economics of news publishing to facilitate subscription and not just advertising. As consumers have been willing to pay for TV streaming services to avoid interruption-by-ads, they will be willing to pay for news services that are more independent and less influenced by click chasing.
As news reporting gets commoditized, opinion and commentary will become more valued.
Letts was an early entrant in the development of personal news gathering with the invention of the diary in 1812, and the creation of ‘diary-keeping’. Next week Letts Group plan to announce a new step in its approach to more democratic news provision.
News gathering and reporting will become more distributed and automated. Media technology and equipment gets more powerful by the day, while costs continue to decline. As a result, media outlets will be able to rely on citizen journalism for local stories, video footage and photos, focusing their diminished resources on hot stories and hot spots. Equally, artificial intelligence will enable the back office, writers and editorial staff to get replaced by machines.
New payment technologies are opening up micro-payments and innovative approaches to media distribution as we transition to the tokenization of news articles and videos. In effect, news media discovery and acquisition might become more like buying a single on Spotify - discovering (and paying for) stand alone articles, rather than subscribing to broad online news publications like we used to buy albums. This would benefit certain aggregators over branded news publishers.
The combination of massively distributed, real-time citizen journalism, AI publishing processes and new payment methods, along with advances in 3D and interactive, multi-user video means that news media could be on the cusp of another significant step change - leaving it for the rest of us to catch up.
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