It hasn’t been the easiest year for news media. In many countries, advertising revenue continues to fall. Facebook, which has sent significant amounts of traffic to news sites, announced earlier this year that it was planning to change its newsfeed to deprioritise content from media and businesses favour of that from friends and family. The repercussions of the 2016 uproar over ‘fake news’ continue.
In times of great political uncertainty and online fragmentation, however, high quality, independent journalism and reliable news sources are more important than ever, and publishers must continue to fight back against all the challenges that they face.
Good journalism is impossible without sufficient funding, and the revenue question therefore continues to be top of mind for many publishing and editorial executives. It is by now clear that advertising is not going to support news products in the way that it used to, and that there is no magic solution waiting around the corner.
It’s time for publishers to take a proactive role in building new business models. This report outlines a wide array of different revenue streams to fund their journalism, and takes an in-depth look at reader revenue, which we believe will be an integral part of any successful business going forward, and at service journalism, which provides another potential revenue stream as it allows publishers to make money through affiliate marketing.
In the quest to get readers to pay, getting to know your audience is crucial. In line with the shift toward reader revenue as a key source of income online, newsrooms are increasingly looking more at metrics that indicate reader loyalty, and less at those such as page views, which are more relevant for an ad-supported model, as we explain in a chapter on analytics.
We argue that for quality news publishers, the fake news furore offers an opportunity: as trust falls in online platforms, this provides a motivation to readers to consume and pay for quality content.
In the way it is presented, journalism should surprise and delight as well as inform. We have identified some of the most creative innovations in both digital and print to offer inspiration and ideas for future narratives. We also provide our ten ‘commandments’ for effective user experience design.
The report takes a look at some of the main tech developments that have significant implications for news media. The potential of voice might seem limited now, but technology is moving fast, and it’s important to re- member that future generations will grow up talking to devices, (as I am often reminded when my 2-year-old hopefully asks anything that resembles a machine, from thermometers to parking meters, to sing her ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’.)
Artificial intelligence also plays a growing role in news gathering and distribution: rather than focusing on fears around robots stealing our jobs, staff at news organisations should concentrate on taking advantage of the efficiencies that automation can offer.
Internally, these developments necessitate culture change, which is one of the biggest current challenges for newsroom managers. As well as supplying tips and advice on how to adapt your newsroom’s culture, the report also outlines how you can change the architecture of your newsroom.
More than ever, the first step towards success is original, well- reported and insightful journalism that provides true value to your audience: the kind of journalism that keeps people coming back for more, and persuades them that your product is worth supporting.