While every business sector has experienced the opportunities and challenges of digital disruption over the past decade, it would be fair to say that news organisations has struggled more than most.
Digital platforms and social media have eaten up traditional advertising revenue while providing readers with ready access to a cornucopia of news. This information, which is tailored to their interests and opinions at the touch of a button, poses an existential threat not just to the business models of a few organisations – but an entire industry.
After many years of soul-searching and multiple attempts to persuade readers and advertisers to return, the sector continues to struggle against the backdrop of an uncertain future. In a saturated media age, news outlets have had to regularly adapt their approach to not just report the news, but to entertain their audiences – and fast.
As discussed in a recent article on PN London’s website, some outlets have sought to double down on identity editorial, supporting agendas and taking on arguments they believe resonate to their reader heartland, while many have simplified the way they report in favour of shorter, compelling content as part of a relentless battle for eyeballs and clicks. However, sustained low levels of public trust, claims of ‘fake news’ and reports of audiences tuning out due to information overload, have led many within the media to question what the future of journalism will look like.
One of the biggest challenges for media organisations is to re-engage audiences and rebuild trust in credible news reporting. This is already underway thanks to, by and large, high quality reporting of the Covid-19 pandemic and the coverage of the ongoing war in Ukraine. This has seen media not only reporting on the news but providing high quality, accessible content in different formats to help people understand the context. For example, BBC presenter Ros Atkins became a breakout star last year with his short, evidence-based explainers on social media. Atkins’ video on the Downing Street Christmas parties was watched over 11 million times in nine days.
Beyond enticing back traditional news audiences, the biggest task facing media organisations is finding ways to cultivate new relationships and establish a relevance with audiences born and raised in an environment of freely accessible news and information. Today, alongside competing with traditional news brands, media outlets are also vying for traffic with content creators on social platforms.
The shift to multimedia storytelling has reinforced the old maxim of ‘content being king’. This is pushing journalists to find stories that connect with audiences across multiple platforms – such as specialist newsletters, podcasts and video – to try and build communities around shared interests. Here, the future for media lies in making experiences more personalised and interactive, bringing audiences deeper into topics.
This shift has provided exciting opportunities for businesses and brands to collaborate with journalists to tell stories and deliver more personal, authentic and rewarding experiences for audiences. However, if content is indeed king, conversion is God in this context. Media organisations, as well as businesses themselves, must show that they understand their audiences and can deliver stories that compel them to read, engage and share, but also get them to buy, trust and believe in their brand on a long-term basis.
Achieving this remains the holy grail for both parties. How this actually happens, and the exact path forward will continue to evolve in 2022 and beyond.
This article is part of a series investigating ongoing and emerging trends in the media and digital space and their impact on the way news is reported.
Porter Novelli have created a report covering the major trends affecting media and digital trends in 2022 and recommendations for how businesses can respond to increase their impact with media.
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