According to media leaders interviewed by the Reuters Institute for its annual state of the media report, just 44% of them are confident for 2023. This is mostly due to the rising costs, lower interest from advertisers and a decrease in subscriptions. It is also linked to a continuing decline of print newspapers, but also a decline in TV and broadcast audiences which have been hit by news fatigue. All the factors foreshadow more layoffs across the media.
Publishers will also likely choose to invest mostly in subscriptions and memberships, with 80% of them claiming they expect this to be one of their most important revenues, while still giving an importance to diversifying their sources of income. Adding to this worrying state, 72% of publishers are concerned about an increase in news avoidance around “depressing topics” including the climate crisis, but also the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. To counter this trend, media are planning to focus on “explainer content” (94%), “Q&A formats” (87%) or “inspirational stories” (66%). Another way of tackling the climate crisis story lies in creating a “specialist climate team” in newsrooms, in order to deliver stronger coverage.
In regards to technology and innovation, The Reuters Institute claims more effort will be put into developing content on Tik Tok, Instagram and Youtube, as Twitter and Facebook are generating less traffic and are becoming less relevant for publishers. Twitter has also become less predictable and reliable for journalists since Elon Musk became CEO.
This raises questions about whether journalists should leave Twitter to go on alternative social media, such as Mastodon or not. Half of publishers say they think it would be bad for journalists if Twitter were to collapse. There is also a big challenge facing the media in respect of the regulation of fake news and misleading information on platforms used mostly by the younger generation (mostly Tik Tok and Instagram). Additionally, more effort will be put in podcasts and digital audio content, as well as email newsletters and digital video formats. There is also a growing consideration to further incorporate AI into their products in order to deliver “more personalised experiences”.
“The prevailing mood in the news industry is one of uncertainty” concluded Reuters Institute, underlining the considerable challenges related to media’s economic structure, technology and the environment.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “This report demonstrates some of the serious business challenges facing media in 2023 and reaffirms the importance of building a strong collective voice through journalists’ unions to ensure professional media workers have a voice in helping to shape the industry in the public interest”.