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Five Things Everybody Needs to Know about the Future of Journalism

Zuckerberg in Congress

Image: Reuters, Leah Millis

DOI: 10.60625/risj-6ypv-5n36

Journalism is becoming more important but less robust, according to a new report identifying five trends about the future of journalism and their potential impact upon society.

The report, More Important, But Less Robust? Five things everybody needs to know about the future of journalism, highlights risks posed by growing information inequality, struggling journalism business models, and the role of social media platforms. It also underlines that digital media drive more diverse news diets and argues that, despite the challenges, the best journalism is better than ever.

The five global trends are based on recent research conducted at the Reuters Institute. They reflect changes to the way people access news, transformations in professional journalism and the business of news, as well as changing political environments in some parts of the world.

5 things everybody needs to know about the future of journalism:

  1. We have moved from a world where media organisations were gatekeepers to a world where media still create the news agenda, but platform companies control access to audiences
  2. This move to digital media generally does not generate filter bubbles. Instead automated serendipity and incidental exposure drive people to more and more diverse sources of information
  3. Journalism is often losing the battle for people’s attention and in some countries for the public’s trust
  4. The business models that fund news are challenged, weakening professional journalism and leaving news media more vulnerable to commercial and political pressures
  5. News is more diverse than ever, and the best journalism in many cases better than ever, taking everyone from the most powerful politicians to the biggest private companies

The report argues that these five trends will play out – with variation due to cultural, economic, political, and social context – across the globe in years to come.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, co-author of the report said: “Digital media bring many challenges for journalism and for our societies, but also very real opportunities for both news media and the public. The challenge for journalists and news media is to continue to adapt to the digital media that people all around the world are eagerly embracing at the expense of print and broadcast, and build a profession and a business fit for the future.”

Meera Selva, co-author of the report said: “The role of journalism in many different cases, including the #MeToo movement, in confronting corruption amongst public officials, and in fuelling public debate around platform companies’ power and privacy practices, underline the continued relevance of investigative reporting.

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