This, however, is an unfair assessment. By experimenting with different methods of keeping readers interested, the news industry is working tirelessly to keep journalism alive. Because they receive the majority of their profits from ads and subscriptions, some of the most distinguished newspapers have found themselves strapped for cash. In , total revenue within the newspaper industry decreased by 2. Often some of the most experienced reporters are the first to be laid off because they have the highest salaries. Scott Bowles had been working for USA Today for 17 years when he found out that he was being laid off.
Its just the cold climate journalism has become. From to , the number of working journalists in the United States decreased by 17,, according to the Pew Research Center. Gannett has also instituted pay walls—an attempt to gain revenue by preventing Internet users from accessing content without a paid subscription. Despite these efforts, print revenues have continued to decline. USA Today continues to hire but who they are hiring tends to be people right out of school, people who know social media. Many newspapers have also been revising content in order to target a more specific—and generally younger—audience.
The prevalent assumption has been that the general population wants their news delivered in bite sized packages and given the larger lack of editorial resources, the Associated Press, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal have all explicitly told their reporters to write shorter stories within the past year and a half. However we must also invest in technology to help those journalists be as efficient as possible so they can pursue the work with the highest impact.
In addition, AI investments will help us serve our audiences and combat misinformation. This will fall into three main categories:. Toutiao has around m users with average dwell times of over an hour each day. Engagement may be high, but the dangers of this approach are also becoming apparent. Popularity based algorithms are encouraging clickbait, a surfeit of viral videos and other sensationalist material. The Chinese government suspended a number of apps including Toutiao in April for carrying vulgar and untrue material.
Personalisation of the news service is critical, but does not mean just handing over editorial judgement to algorithms …. The big question for traditional publishers is how to use AI responsibly and transparently within their own websites and apps and how to communicate what is going on to users. The Finnish broadcaster YLE has spent a lot of time thinking about these issues as it develops its Voitto intelligent assistant left. This collects feedback on AI-driven recommendations directly on the lockscreen — the first app to do so — and aims to build an on-going dialogue with users about the choices they make.
This will mean educating listeners about the benefits of algorithms and how to use personalisation options without unintended consequences such as removing views that may challenge your own. Charlie Beckett, who runs the Polis project at the LSE, will also be exploring these issues for a new Google-supported project focused on research and AI training for newsrooms.
The last thing journalism needs now is to further dilute trust and transparency in its work. News agencies have been automating news stories around company earnings for years, but the next step seems to be virtual newsreaders.
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Computer programmes have modelled the voices, lip movements and expressions of real Xinhau presenters to create these simulations. These early versions tend to show a lack of warmth, but experts believe that eventually even a sense of humour could be programmed in. Which news anchor is real? Could Anime reporters replace humans? The latest NHK experiment, Yomiko, was designed by a leading manga artist and has the personality of a fresh-faced cub reporter. She has featured within the main news bulletin above but also has a presence of her own reading the news via Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
These technologies have significant potential to make existing processes quicker and more efficient, but also to create output that was previously not viable. News agencies are ramping up their production too with the Finnish news agency STT translating news into English and Swedish automatically. By the end of this year, AP aims to have produced 40, automated stories, primarily in business news and sports.
Next steps will be to make the labelling and captioning process easier using image recognition software for the newsroom.
The speed and amount of news now make it increasingly necessary for journalists to use algorithms to help find stories and verify them in real time. DataMinr used AI to sift through millions of tweets. Its algorithms help spot unusual patterns that help newsrooms to keep on top of breaking news. AP has developed an internal verification tool, which helps journalists verify multimedia content in real time. The Reuters news agency is taking a different approach, building an AI tool to help journalists analyse big data sets and suggest story ideas.
How can newspapers survive? By measuring their social impact
It may also help write part of the story, though the aim is not to replace reporters. In the year ahead, it is likely that these tools might increasingly scoop journalists as patterns in data provide new areas to explore. A Finnish university is offering a free course, open to anyone in the world, as part of a drive to increase public understanding. It takes around 30 hours to complete and international students will get a certificate that they can post to their LinkedIn profile.
Expect more public and private initiatives in Audio looks set to be one of the hottest topics in media during , driven by the growing popularity of podcasts and the sale of hundreds of millions of new audio devices aka smart speakers — now spreading rapidly across the world. It is estimated that up to 40million people own smart speakers in the United States and about 7million in the UK. Publishers think audio represents a big opportunity in Which, if any, of the following devices do you ever use for any purpose?
Showing smart speaker code. Base: All approx. Which of the following devices do you own and use nowadays? Podcasts got newsier over the last year as more publishers looked to follow the success of The Daily from the New York Times , a broadcast which has over 5m listeners a month and has now extended its footprint to linear public radio.
The Guardian Today in Focus , and the Washington Post Post Reports are two other publishers that are investing heavily in audio, partly because they see a good business opportunity and partly as a way of reaching younger audiences. Our own research shows that unders are between three and five times more likely to consume podcasts compared with traditional speech radio.
With music streaming becoming more competitive, leading players could be looking at exclusive podcasts as a way of driving growth and reducing churn. Podcasts may not offer a pot of gold, but easier access, better discovery and millions of new audio devices suggests there is considerable growth left in the market. Though millions of smart speakers were unwrapped at Christmas, the story of the coming year is likely to be the spread of voice assistants outside the home and to many more languages.
New iOS and Android operating systems have made voice more prominent on mobile phones, headphone manufacturers like Bose are embracing them while car manufacturers are launching their own assistants as well as making it easier to access Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. All this will make it easier to access existing linear radio, podcasts, audio books and streaming music services in more places and in more convenient ways.
Not just smart speakers. This is why smart speakers are increasingly coming with screens that can display accompanying images such as weather maps as well as enabling video calling and picture display. The Google Hub October is a screen-based smart speaker that adds a visual layer to voice-driven experiences, competing with the existing Amazon Show. Facebook also entered the market in October with Portal, a new screen-based device, which contains Alexa voice functionality as well as its proprietary voice recognition for video calling.
US public launch June India, Canada, Japan Nov. The number of supported languages doubled in and we can expect the number of supported languages to grow further this year as the platform wars intensify. Samsung will join the party with its own range of speakers and screens powered by Bixby while Chinese, Korean and Russian tech giants have also developed their own range of branded devices with underlying AI assistants. While publishers recognise that voice will be a major disruption, they are not clear about whether now is the right time to invest. Our own study suggested that the take up of news content was disappointing.
In general broadcasters are bullish and newspapers more cautious. I think voice has the potential to fundamentally change the way people interact with our journalism. Australian broadcaster. UK newspaper publisher. Publishers, who already fear their brands will be devalued in a voice environment, will be worried about this development. Publishers like the BBC prefer to create their own destinations these are called skills or actions in a voice world where they can offer more personalised and controllable audio — as well as offering onward journeys to other content.
Voice news search gets better: Voice searches for cinema listings or celebrity birthdays work pretty well because the data is both limited in scope and well structured. News search is a much bigger problem and the platforms want publishers to create readable snippets of content that answer current questions.
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Multi-modal voice experiences: Watch out for more experiences that mix voice inputs with smartphone outputs — and vice versa. You can already ask about movie showtimes using your Amazon Echo or Google Home, but then the booking is completed via a message sent to your phone. Similarly you may be able to save articles in your favourite news app and then ask your speaker to read them out when you are ready. Voice confusion sets in, some abandonment: The growing number of platforms could slow the take up of these technologies — especially given the subtle differences in how to ask for content — and even what content is available.
Given current levels of hype, it also inevitable that some disenchantment will set in. A bit like Chinese bikes for hire, many of these relatively cheap devices will be cast aside, or just left to gather dust. Screen-based speakers in particular will sell poorly with many models discontinued. In this section we explore emerging technologies that could be extremely powerful in the future but are unlikely to hit the mainstream in Much has been written about cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that underpins them.
This is essentially a system in which a number of different computers contribute to a time-stamped, secure, permanent and public ledger — thus allowing for automated transactions that many believe will make business radically cheaper and easier. So far the system is best known for facilitating speculative currencies, but could it do more?
Could it help secure the future of journalism? Civil Media is a non-profit start up that aims to do just that, to help news outlets raise money from readers and investors while also providing new tools to monetise journalism. Civil is currently supporting more than a dozen newsrooms with significant grants, including local and investigative news outlets, even though its initial token sale spectacularly failed to reach its target.
Participating newsrooms below also sign up to the Civil Constitution, which defines the values and standards expected of the community. Civil credibility labels provide further detail about processes and sourcing of a particular story. The Civil initiative is just one way of using blockchain technology, In theory, it could also unlock micropayments for individual stories or authors by doing away with credit card and inter-banking fees that currently make these impractical. Another media-focused start-up, po. This could make it easier to syndicate and manage content for different territories, with the process of managing rights effectively automated.
And then there is the Holy Grail of verification. In theory it might be possible to construct and crowd-source real-time ledgers of the truthfulness of an individual piece of content, perhaps by getting the community to vote on it. This is much more contentious and the association with volatile crypto currencies is likely to distract from the potential of these technologies — a situation which is likely to persist through The market is close to saturation and consumers are holding on to their phones for longer.
One consequence of this is higher prices. It has consistently been losing ground to Chinese rivals like Huawei and Xiaomi.
News in the Internet Age (New Trends in News Publishing)
Other innovations this year are likely to be fingerprint sensors build into screens and hole punch camera mounts. Huawei hole-punch camera screen. Folding phones could double screen size. Meanwhile phone companies will be looking to shift their business models away from volatile hardware sales towards subscription packages. Expect to see more phones essentially leased using services like the Apple upgrade programme.
This will enable quicker browsing, high quality video streaming but also make it possible to connect more devices at the same time. In most countries the handsets will be available before widespread network coverage. This may involve using 5G to live stream CCTV coverage from buses to enable traffic police to respond more quickly to incidents. For news organisations, 5G will eventually enable reliable high-definition mobile reporting and access to the cameras of citizen journalists in breaking news situations.
Faster speeds and better screens will also accelerate the push to personalised news, mobile formats and visual journalism. NHK launched its 4K and 8K channels in Japan in December , delivering eye-opening ultra-high-definition programming on schedule. Initial programming includes classical music concerts, works of art, dramas and nature programmes and scenes from the International Space Station in cooperation with NASA.
VR headset sales continue to disappoint while more accessible AR technologies are beginning to gain traction, especially in e-commerce. Some large media companies continue to experiment with both these technologies, notably the New York Times and the BBC, but for many other publishers the level of usage does not yet justify significant investment. The majority of consumption is for content that can be easily viewed on mobile devices without additional plugins — such as video and 3D experiences. In November the New York Times immersive team captured the Statue of Liberty torch, ahead of its move for restoration.
Commercial models are also emerging. In some cases, platforms are paying for content but Quartz has integrated AR ads into its pioneering chat app, while the New York Times has explored branded content creating a Hidden Figures AR experience for IBM to promote unrecognised doctors, mathematicians and scientists. This year will see the first commercial self-driving taxi services — even if these services are extremely limited at first in terms of scope and location. General Motors GM is planning a commercial service in San Francisco via its Cruise Automation subsidiary and plans to go into production with cars that have no pedals or steering wheels this year left.
Uber remains interested in a commercial service, despite a fatal crash involving one its vehicles in But in the long term these technologies are likely to have a considerable impact not just on transportation, but also on media. Audio currently has a stranglehold in cars, but with eyes no longer needing to be fixed on the road, screen based activities like TV, films, emails and social media are likely to gain ground.
Despite, or perhaps because of, tough times there is no shortage of start-ups looking to capitalise on new tech and audience trends. Here are five of the best:. Kinzen is a new subscription-based news app that is built on user curation and recommendation. Tapping into the idea that people want to spend time with more meaningful media, it aims to create daily routines that are time limited, personalised, and mind broadening.
Given the number of free aggregators, Kinzen, which launches in early , may have its work cut out persuading enough people to pay, but the founding team have a good track record. Curio is a paid for app that curates high quality audio content from the Guardian , FT , The Economist , and the Washington Post amongst others.
Selected stories are professionally read. High-quality audio from Curio. Easy payment for premium content from Agate. Agate is a digital wallet that allows you to pay for premium articles as you go. Publishers like Popbitch see figure above and the New European can set their own pricing at a story level or for a period of time. Consumers can top up when they run out cash. These schemes aim to make it easier to consume premium content from multiple brands without hitting paywalls; the problem will be getting a critical mass of publishers to take part. It brings together thousands of US public records databases in real time, making it easier for journalists to find stories.
It is also starting to form the basis of new automated products like news alerts based on that data. Spaceship Media 57 focuses on creating a dialogue across political divides and generating original journalism from the process. Its latest high profile project was running a Facebook group that brought together women with very different political views ahead of the US mid-term elections.
The model is to work with that community, and produce original stories that come out of the conversation for partner news organisations. These ideas are gaining traction around the world — see also My Country Talks, originally an initiative by Die Zeit to get communities to listen to those with opposing views, now expanding as an international platform for political dialogue. This will be a critical year for both publishers and platforms in terms of rebuilding trust and credibility after years of self-inflicted wounds around quality, privacy, and user experience.
A number of fundamentals are beginning to shift and these will be much clearer by the end of The labelling and prioritising of trusted content is well underway in third party networks, supported by emerging standards around ethics and fact-checking that can help to distinguish reputable news from rumour and spin. At the same time platforms are reconfiguring their algorithms to be more respectful of signals of meaningful content.
These changes will not solve the problems of misinformation overnight but they provide a basis by which that might eventually happen. The shift to reader payment as a core business model, clearly signalled in our digital leaders survey, should also deliver more distinctive content and discourage low quality clickbait that has devalued journalism in the recent past.
Even news publishers that continue to rely on advertising are refocusing on loyalty and on building relationships over time. It is encouraging to see a number of start-ups this year Civil, Tortoise, De Correspondent, and Kinzen focusing on building strong communities from the start — as well as emphasising values and principles that will underpin their journalism. Co-operation between publishers is also creating more impact and reducing costs, even if this requires a huge leap of faith for many journalists.
Meanwhile new opportunities are opening up for visual storytelling, while audio is showing signs of promise with a younger generation that is discovering quality speech content for the first time. But none of these developments are panaceas for a media industry that will remain in a fragile state through and beyond. More news organisations will go to the wall as economic headwinds bite. Tech platforms will remain cautious and defensive in the light of regulatory threats. And the pace of technological change shows no sign of slowing down.
Artificial Intelligence offers the possibility of more personal and relevant news services, new ways to uncover stories, as well as more efficient ways of packaging and distributing content. The blockchain will ultimately open up new forms of payment and verification, while voice assistants could become a major new gateway for accessing media of all types. In this context, news organisations will be need to be clearer than ever about what they stand for — and about the audience they are serving.
Participants were selected because they held senior positions editorial, commercial, or product in traditional or digital-born publishing companies and were responsible for aspects of digital strategy. Participants filled out an online survey with specific questions around strategic digital intent in He is also a consultant on digital media, working actively with news companies on product, audience, and business strategies for digital transition.
He has produced a media and journalism predictions report for the last twelve years. This is the fourth to be published by the Reuters Institute. As Head of Product Development he led digital teams, developing websites, mobile, and interactive TV applications for all BBC journalism sites. Acknowledgements The author is grateful for the input of digital leaders from 29 countries, who responded to a survey around the key challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.
Survey input and answers helped guide some of the themes in this report and data have been used throughout. Big Fat Notebook Series. No Fear Shakespeare. John C. Malcolm Gladwell. Simon Sinek. Six Sigma. Stephen Covey. John G.
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