Intelligent news for an intelligent public
Publisher: Work ResearchAbstract:
The challenges facing newspapers today are many. They include finding a successful business model and retaining loyal readers in the digital age; understanding and meeting the needs of an audience that extends beyond the geographical reach of the print edition; and keeping up with technology as it advances. At the same time, journalism itself is changing, as it finds a way to negotiate its active publics, and adapt to the increasing need for multimedia outputs. These are the challenges that newspaper companies around the world are facing daily as they attempt to remain relevant in the public sphere and serve the democratic interest of citizens while, at the same time, being sufficiently profitable to be economically viable.
In response to an apparent global trend where declining circulations – and thereby advertising revenues – were knocking one newspaper after the next into bankruptcy, many analysts have wondered aloud whether the days of the newspaper were numbered (e.g. The Center for the Digital Future, 2012). This is not a conclusion we share. In this report, we hope to debunk a number of myths surrounding the future of newspapers. In the first part of this report we present evidence of a changing market of news consumption – which no doubt brings some uncertainties – but where strong newspaper brands remain central. Part 2 will look specifically at audience tastes in news, where the evidence is quite clear: in a popular cultural landscape apparently obsessed by celebrity, there is still a strong demand for an authoritative voice in the tabloid market which covers serious news and current affairs. Part 3 examines trends in participatory journalism, arguing that despite a number of potentially empowering developments for the audience, there is a clear place for professional journalism. In the face of commercial pressures which may lead some news organizations to obediently follow consumer tastes, in part 4 we make the case for agenda-leading quality journalism, which plays a crucial role in a maintaining a healthy democracy – and can remain profitable.