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Predictions for journalism 2024

A newspaper coming off the press

I participated in this year’s NiemanLab Predictions for Journalism. My prediction is about AI flooding the web with spammy, bland content — and the techniques newsrooms will need to use to connect with their communities:

Newsrooms that commit to AI-driven storytelling as a way to cut costs while increasing output will be lost in a sea of similarly bland content and spammy marketing. Newsrooms that cling to traditional SEO and social media tactics will find that they become less and less effective in the face of more and more noise.

In contrast, the newsrooms that survive the flooding of the web are going to be the ones that report deeply, commit to diverse representation, invest in investigative journalism in the public interest, and choose to meet their communities where they’re at by doing things that don’t scale to engage them.

Read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, Dana Lacey predicts that publishers will embrace open source:

[Publishers] will finally see open source software as a competitive advantage, and the cheapest way to keep up with the pace of innovation. They’ll explore ways to use open source technology to combat disinformation, personalize content, and reach new audiences by tapping into global expertise.

Andrew Losowsky invites newsrooms to learn from influencers as a way of building trust:

Journalism has to rebuild itself around the real needs of our communities. To do this effectively, we first need to show up for them. We need to be more approachable and present, to ask and answer ongoing questions, to encourage and engage in discussions around what and how we cover, to show up for our communities in good times as well as bad, to reward and encourage loyalty, to create near-seamless access to our work, and to provide real, demonstrable value with everything we make. In other words, learn from influencers through the lens of engaged journalism.

Sisi Wei discusses “news mirages” — news that looks trustworthy but isn’t news at all:

Rapid developments in AI (and the billions in funding being poured into it) are making it easier and easier for bad actors to conjure these mirages using text, audio, photo, and video, using quantity to overwhelm the little oases of quality information communities manage to access.

[…] In 2024, journalists must double-down on finding, publishing, and distributing quality independent information to fill the void. It’s not enough to only dispel the illusions created by news mirages. If we only debunk misinformation without publishing quality information of our own, we have only shifted a news mirage back into a news desert.

Upasna Gautam calls for newsrooms to learn how to build product in a more agile way (which they frankly should have a long time ago):

Central to an agile environment is the core concept of iterative development cycles. These succinct sprints, spanning two to four weeks, liberate development teams from the constraints of traditional waterfall methodologies. They empower teams not just to deliver software but to orchestrate incremental improvements, enabling swift adaptation to emerging trends and seamless integration of user feedback.

Amethyst J. Davis bluntly calls for the PressForward funding initiative to prove itself to the Black press:

How are the neediest of newsrooms supposed to trust Press Forward when public and private funders involved have already tried to lock us out? We all have stories.

I know so many Black-centered newsroom leaders who’ve expressed doubt about Press Forward behind the scenes. They’ve been told they should keep their comments quiet because they’ll lose out on critical dollars.

The whole list is a check on the pulse of how the news industry is thinking. I love it, and feel very privileged to contribute. You can check it out here.

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