Along with fad diets and crowded gyms, one thing you can always count on with an impending new year is predictions. From next year’s hottest tech trends to the celebrity baby watch, people around the world are predicting what’s in store for 2015, and experts watching the media industry are no different.
Earlier this month, the Nieman Journalism Lab, a Harvard-affiliated organization pushing the future of journalism, asked a select list of experts in the world of media to predict what 2015 will bring to the field.
Here are some of my favorites:
The rise of bullsh*t data journalism: According to Jacob Harris, senior software architect at The New York Times, “the wave of bullshit data is rising, and now it’s our turn to figure out how not to get swept away.”
Harris worries about the state of journalism as he watches news organizations flood their sites with “fast, cheap stories” just to hit their monthly traffic numbers. “And everybody knows that posts that feature several key charts or 40 maps that explain something tend to do pretty well in traffic,” he says.
Well, yes, they do. But we at InkHouse believe there is a proper way companies can gather credible data that will serve as a strong piece of their PR program. In a previous post, Beth Monaghan outlines the right ways to produce newsworthy data, which includes partnering with a credible third-party research firm to generate data that is valid and unique and will thereby enable a brand to offer new perspective to a conversation already taking place in the news.
Native helps pay for the news: Native advertising certainly had its moment in the spotlight in 2014, and from the sound of it, 2015 will be no different. According to Amanda Hale, vice president of advertising and creative solutions at Talking Points Memo, “2015 will be the first year where native advertising programs will be in place at nearly every serious news organization… And I think that’s totally pivotal for journalism.”
Native, she says, “plays to the very heart of serious news organizations’ strengths” and her hope is that 2015 will be the year when people begin to see native advertising as a vitally important revenue stream for a publication, rather than a threat to journalistic standards.
We at InkHouse would say the jury is still out on native advertising. While we certainly encourage anything that financially supports our favorite news organizations, and wholeheartedly support brands producing their own content, we still find great success by first packaging a CEO’s point of view or insightful data into articles, infographics and slideshows that, as Tina Cassidy says, “get published, just like real journalism, on legitimate sites such as Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, Fast Co., Wired, and many others…without having to pay.”
Let’s see if developments in 2015 change our minds.
The readers we can’t friend: Heidi Moore, U.S. finance and economics editor at The Guardian, makes one of my favorite predictions: she says there is still a significant segment of this country that wants to consume news, but aren’t as clued in to the newest content platform or real-time news app as journalists and PR representatives.
It is her hope that 2015 is the year we start to address the news consumption needs of this group. “For those who need to survive, this is the key. For those who need to thrive, the next step to growth is reaching beyond the readers who are sitting ducks on social platforms. They want the news too.”
As the daughter of a man who loves the news – who made me love the news – but doesn’t spend time trolling his Facebook feed and likely has no idea what Twitter is, I completely agree. Through our obsession with social platforms, we are leaving out a good chunk of the population who wants to read our stories too.
People are willing to pay for good content: Maria Bustillos, a critic and writer in Los Angeles, says “2015 will see a tipping point in favor of subscription-based journalism online.” And with publications like The New Yorker, Financial Times and The New York Times maintaining successful subscription-based business models, it is clear that readers are willing pay for online access to worthwhile content.
The Wall Street Journal’s social media editor Sarah Marshall adds to that sentiment, saying that paying for news on mobile should be as easy as getting an Uber: “Name me a paid-for news site that has a payment method so easy that a new subscriber could sign up in less than five minutes while in a dark room after having consumed a few glasses of festive punch.”
Now, if content subscriptions are as cheap as getting an Uber, I am all in.
You can read these predictions and many more at the Nieman Journalism Lab site. We are eager to see what 2015 brings, and hope you are too.