Study: Publishers confident about their own prospects, but less certain about journalism’s future

A new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism lays out some key trends and predictions for the year 2020.

by Simone Flueckiger | January 10, 2020

The report entitled “Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2020” is based on a survey of some 230 newsroom executives from 32 countries.

Roughly 73 percent said they felt confident or very confident about their company’s prospects for the year 2020, while only 46 percent felt the same way about the future of journalism.

“I was most surprised about the level of confidence senior execs have about their own prospects given economic and political uncertainty and the continuing disruption via powerful tech forces,” Nic Newman, senior research associate at the RISJ and author of the report, told WAN-IFRA.

He added that the difference between publishers’ confidence in their own companies and the future of journalism can, in part, be explained by the gap opening up between quality media who are moving to subscriptions or membership models, and the rest who are struggling with broken ad models, consumer indifference and a lack of investment in digital.

Reader revenue a big priority

Meanwhile, many publishers are betting big on reader revenue this year, according to the report, with half of respondents calling it their main income stream. For 35 percent, reader revenue and advertising are equally important, while advertising alone will be most important for 14 percent.

“Reader revenue is no panacea and subscription won’t work for all – or even most – publishers,” Newman explained when asked about his view on publishers focused mainly on advertising.

“On the other hand, no one can afford to rely on digital display alone and so diversification will be critical. We’ll see more publishers looking to supplement ads with commerce this year, events, audio and video ads and other ideas. Data alliances for first party data is also likely to be an important strategy going forward to help publishers get the most out of their inventory in a world without cookies.”

Making strides on gender diversity

Survey respondents were also asked to rate their organisations with regards to diversity. Already, many news organisations are taking steps aimed at improving gender balance, both within the newsroom and in the content they produce, with an eye towards reflecting society more accurately and attracting  and retaining women readers and subscribers. As for the survey respondents, 76 percent think their organisation is doing a good job in this area.

This number, however, drops significantly for racial diversity, with only 33 percent agreeing with the above statement.

The full report “Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2020” can be accessed here.

At this year’s World News Media Congress in Zaragoza, 17 – 19 June, Nic Newman and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, will present the 2020 Digital News Report, and share key findings from the renowned international survey. The report will explore how news is used, the business of news, and how people’s perception of news and media is developing around the world.

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