What's the news?
New technology architectures and business models will be needed by news operations if they are to be successful in the years ahead.
The media landscape is changing rapidly – and so is news and media usage: While newspapers, online, radio and TV used to play the most relevant role, now new media are transforming the market completely.
How do media and broadcasting experts assess the present and future situation of news consumption? Nathalie Malinarich (BBC), Kamal Ahmed (The News Movement), Pete Clifton (PA Media), Katie Drummond (VICE News), Thomas Müller and Thomas Grandoch (both Qvest) share their insights and outlooks on the dynamic industry with the DPP, in a new report enabled by Qvest.
Changing audience preferences, ever faster production cycles, new demands on storytelling – there are undoubtedly numerous news about ‘the news’ itself these days. And to stay in the picture, the headline always contains the key term: transformation. This applies to both business and technology.
The media landscape today is one characterized by rapid change. While it used to be newspapers, online, radio, and, TV that played the most relevant role in media use, today entirely new media are transforming the market. Social media platforms such as TikTok are becoming increasingly relevant – including in reporting. More and more people prefer a creative TikTok video rather than a classic TV news format. This is also confirmed by the Reuters 2022 Digital News Report, stating that TikTok has become the fastest growing network, reaching 40% of 18–24-year-olds and 15% using the platform for news – tendency increasing. It may be the same news, but the audience demands a new way of storytelling.
At the same time, we see, that media outlets use this momentum of transformation in terms of their technology. The opportunities and potential of a modern tech stack enables established media companies to gain more flexibility and attractiveness – while ensuring their highest standards of journalistic work in all media types. Not only are systems and workflows changing, but collaboration at the same level across former departmental boundaries and a broader skill spectrum of employees are required, which – just like technology – does not stop at classic channel boundaries.
The What’s the News? report addresses an important and complex question. But what’s even more important: media and broadcasting experts provide the right answers and share their insights and outlooks on this dynamic industry.
A mobile and social revolution
What are the biggest trends in news consumption? Needless to say, mobile and social were the starting point of our discussion. Developments in smartphone technology and social media have had an impact on every industry, with media companies some of the most affected.
At VICE News, Katie Drummond, SVP Global News and Global Editor-in-Chief, says its younger audience is particularly primed to consume news via social media.
"We have seen a huge shift among our audience – which is primarily 18- to 35-year-olds – towards mobile first consumption. That’s a years-long trend, particularly towards finding news on vertical video platforms – such as TikTok and Instagram. We are seeing a massive surge in audience interest in news at those destinations, instead of someone going to the VICE.com homepage. But they are going to TikTok and catching up with what’s going on in Ukraine on the VICE World News TikTok account. For us that’s really the primary trend we are seeing and reacting to."
Kamal Ahmed is Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The News Movement, a news startup that launched in beta at the end of 2021. ‘Mobile first’ is a dated way to describe The News Movement; ‘social only’ might be a better fit. “We don’t have a homepage,” Kamal says. He describes what
the organisation is doing as a new addition to the rich offering in the news market. It is serving different types of content, rather than trying to replace more traditional news formats.
"What is the news? How do we decide, and then how do we deliver it? I used to be Economics Editor at the BBC, and my teenager once asked me a question which was so fundamental I’ve actually struggled to answer ever since. He said: “Dad, why is that the news?” And that’s actually quite hard to answer; why have we chosen these subjects to be the news rather than a whole set of other subjects?"
For Kamal, social and mobile are more than just platforms. They represent the mechanism to include the audience in the creation and delivery of the news.
"If you look back in history about choices around what news stories are, those choices were made by a certain type of person in a newsroom.The big change for all of us in the media industry – and we’ll all approach this in different ways – is how do we now include the audience in choosing what is the news. What are the conversations that audiences are having that mean we may make different decisions about what we think is the news?"
The shift to mobile from TV and print has taken power away from news organisations. And the split has gone in two directions: first to the consumer, and then to the platforms which own the means of distribution – and ultimately the customer relationship.
“The power function of audiences has become much greater. And we no longer own the means of distribution. So those two things together have fundamentally changed what news is and how it will be consumed. And the other point is people aren’t coming to destinations for the news, they’re seeing the news in their feed. So we’re no longer competing with each other; we’re competing with anything you can do on your mobile phone, or any other type of screen. And that means that our content approach is going to have to change.”
Thomas Grandoch, Senior Business Consultant at Qvest, has pointed out that the audience is everywhere – so that’s where news providers need to be.
The multitude of platforms poses a new challenge for established media companies, as there is an increasing number of touchpoints that need to be covered with individually tailored content. Yesterday, Twitter was the place to be. Tomorrow it might be TikTok. News stories tend to be universally relevant though and take place on all channels – whether on TV, radio or on any evolving online platform. News stories take place wherever recipients are – throughout the day and on a wide variety of platforms.
Pete Clifton sits at the very heart of news creation in the UK as Editor-in-Chief at PA Media. Founded in 1868 to provide a news wire service and source of trusted information to regional and national newspapers, the organisation now services images, video, text based news and more to customers across media and broadcasting. As a business to business service, PA Media gets a bird’s-eye view of the shifts and trends in news.