The newspaper industry has been facing constant challenges for years, and 2023 is no exception. The war in Ukraine, the economic fallout from the pandemic, the impact of climate change and advances in artificial intelligence have paved the way and raised concerns about the sustainability of some news outlets.
The article "Journalism, media and technology: Trends and predictions for 2023", analyzed by Nic Newman and published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), sheds light on what the industry can expect in 2023. The results are based on a survey of 303 media leaders (CEOs, editors, chief digital and innovation officers, among others) from 53 countries, conducted during the last months of 2022.
Journalists from Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia were included as part of the sample. LatAm Journalism Review (LJR) summarizes the highlights of the report below.
According to the report, media leaders' biggest concerns for 2023 are linked to economics: rising costs, declining advertiser interest, stagnant subscriptions, and layoffs to cut costs.
In terms of data, 72% of respondents are concerned about the increase in people avoiding the news. For this reason, the media plan to counter this trend with explanatory content (94%), question-and-answer formats (87%) and inspirational stories (66%).
In addition, another concern for media workers is the possible enactment of more laws to restrict "harmful" content on social networks that may in turn affect the publication of news that is not to the liking of governments. More than 50% are concerned about the use of laws to attack freedom of expression.
In terms of money, the report emphasizes that during 2023 it will be important for the media to rely on several different sources of revenue.
Among these revenues is subscription revenue. And while most respondents expect to grow subscription revenue this year, the focus will be on retaining existing subscribers rather than adding new ones.
In addition to paid platforms, the fastest-growing revenue stream recently has been funding from technology platforms. A third of respondents say that these payments for content licensing or innovation are now an important source of money. For example, payments made by companies such as Google and Facebook to various news outlets for content sales.
However, many of these agreements will not be renewed in 2023. In addition, companies such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and TikTok are rapidly growing their advertising businesses, thereby competing directly with the media.
Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, are becoming less of a priority. In the case of the latter, this is due to the arrival of Elon Musk as CEO and owner of the platform and its possible closure. Some 51% of those surveyed in the report said that the possible loss or weakening of Twitter would be detrimental to journalism.
One platform that is emerging as an alternative is LinkedIn because it allows for newsletter creation and subscription capabilities.
According to the Reuters Institute report, the media in 2023 will focus more on the quality of their journalism and their mission as communicators. As a result, more and more solutions journalism and constructive journalism seem to be gaining momentum in the media.
Issues such as the war in Ukraine and the climate emergency have increasingly led to a specialization on specific topics. For example, on the issue of climate change, 49% of the respondents to the report said they have created specialized teams to strengthen coverage, and a third have hired more staff.
Respondents also said that during 2023 they will allocate more resources to podcasting and digital audio, as well as newsletters. These formats have been shown to increase user loyalty to brands. Likewise, more will also be invested in digital video formats.
In terms of innovation, artificial intelligence (AI) is being experimented with in journalistic products. AI tools for transcription are already commonplace in newsrooms, and tools such as MidJourney and DALL-E are now being used to generate illustrations for articles and social media posts.
Similarly, ChatGPT has become one of the Internet's biggest breakthroughs because it allows computers to create not only words but also images, videos and even virtual worlds from simple prompts. It remains to be seen what its journalistic uses and its implications will be.
Although less than half of those interviewed in the report feel confident about 2023, at least there is confidence that the right products are being developed.
In addition, there is a clear process in place to improve and optimize existing products (54%) and a culture of learning from mistakes (52%).
"The next few years will be defined not by how quickly we embrace digital but by how we transform our digital content to meet an audience whose expectations are rapidly changing," according to the report. "At the same time, journalism will need to emphasize its human qualities and its track record as a disseminator of trusted content, if it is to stand out among the flood of automated and synthetic media that threatens to overwhelm Internet audiences."