Late November and early December, Paris hosted three converging events on the future of the media. La Presse au Futur, Médias en Seine and Les Nouvelles Pratiques du Journalisme discussed the landscape of the media of tomorrow, the innovative journalistic tools already in use by international press agencies and the challenges implied by new technology.
Five trends emerged from the keynotes and workshops:
1. Audio is the New Media
The voice will become the gateway to media going forward. Voice assistants are getting smarter and more functional every week. The voice-activated speaker is already growing faster than smartphones at a similar stage. Even if news consumption is for now limited on these devices, there is a growing trend showing that content consumption will have to be adapted for mobility. Media are starting to use voice assistants to distribute news (news flash, sports results, weather reports) and the trend is rising. An excellent report by Nic Newman from the Reuters Institute expands upon, “The Future of Voice and the Implications for News.”
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has Entered Newsrooms
AI is already in use in many editorial newsrooms of international press agencies. At Agence France-Presse (AFP), AI has already been covering news in sports and poll results. Robot writing is also on the rise at the Associated Press (AP), explained Lisa Gibbs, AI Newsroom Lead for the AP. Algorithms and data enable robots to produce a story quickly. For instance, in the last couple of years, the number of robot written corporate earnings and sports stories jumped from 300 to 3,700 stories. This AI efficiency gives reporters time for higher impact work. The robot can be seen as the journalist’s assistant of the future. With data and templates, it is able to use automated writing and generate summaries. Of course, a human proofreads the final version of the text. Nonetheless, all this implies that words, hashtags, photographs and captions we write will be stored in databases. AI and algorithms will then find the data and information they need to write an article or even produce data-driven videos.
3. Premium Content vs. Standard Content
Premium content will be a condition of the perpetuation of news industries. Media consumption is entering a new cycle. Readers are more and more aware of the importance of trusted information, relevance and meaning of the news. If premium content implies a price, it may also imply high-qualified content like investigative reporting or getting to the facts. Monetizing information will apply for differentiated journalism experiences, an added value that readers are looking for today, especially with innovative technologies linked to mobility and audio.
4. Data, Data and More Data
It is amazing what can be done with data. Data is both a resource and a tool. Structured data is key for AI, measurement indicators, content syndication and more. Everything is data: words, images, figures. International news agencies are using data for robot writing, infographics, dynamic videos and much more. For news distributors, alerting clients on the optimization of words in titles, sub-heads, and captions of images is essential. The more the information is indexed in databases, the higher are the chances that it may be used by journalists or robots.
5. Media Education
Promoting the teaching and learning of media literacy to students – and beyond – is today more important than ever. There is an urgency to apply critical thinking to media and news messages and to use social media to create content. Lots of students cannot distinguish facts from fiction on the internet and in an avalanche of information, it needs to be taught if a source can be trusted or not. Media education is a participation in the civic and economic life of democracy, and all of us in the media industry have a role to play in educating.
Have these trends already impacted your organization? What else do you expect to impact the media landscape in 2019 and beyond? Let us know in the comments!
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