Nieman Lab’s predictions for 2022: our top picks

At the end of last year, Nieman Lab published a series of predictions for journalism in 2022. The fascinating collection gathered the views of more than 60 industry specialists. You can explore the full list on their website, but here are our top picks.

Journalism R&D investment will drive success

The news industry is way behind in its investment in R&D. Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, highlights that the publishing industry is investing just 0.57% of gross value added in R&D. This is almost 10 times lower than the average of all industries at 5%.

During times of digital transformation, this shows a puzzling lack of ambition from news heads. Rasmus predicts that the successful publishers of 2022 will be those who are not afraid to commit to long-term investments.

In 2022, the gap will grow between the titles willing to make serious investments in tools and talent and everyone else.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Long overdue UX fixes will finally be tackled

Nikki Usher, Professor at the University of Illinois, predicts that 2022 will be the year that the news industry will stop saying overdue UX fixes are too hard.

Nikki gives the everyday example of clicking through a social link to a publication you are subscribed to and being asked to log in. This is something we’ve all experienced and become frustrated with. Hopefully publisher’s tech teams share the same frustration!

‘Too hard’ isn’t an acceptable answer in a college classroom, much less from some of the smartest technically minded people in the world.

Nikki Usher, Professor at the University of Illinois

Trend for finite experiences will grow

More news is the problem, not the solutionpredicts Simon Allison, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Continent. In a world of live and breaking news the role of journalism is now to “condense, contextualise, and curate the sheer volume of information that is out there”.

The current model with live news at the core is a direct result of the belief that audiences have an addiction for news. However, according to Tamar Charney of NPR, there are growing signs that people’s tastes are changing. Increased consumption of podcasts and newsletters show people are moving towards finite experiences. This trend will continue as people seek self-care in a world of overwhelming news.

Maybe it’s the pandemic,… but data suggests people are moving in the direction of more finite forms of news in their diets.

Tamar Charney, Consulting Senior Supervising Producer at NPR

For Simon Allison, the best product to address the need for a finite experience is a traditional newspaper and the worst is a news website.

The hard work is done in the newsroom by people whose job it is to process information; all readers have to do is to keep turning the pages.

Simon Allison, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Continent

At Twipe, we have been exploring this with our Reinventing Digital Editions research where we seek to understand how we can build digital products that address these needs.

The year of direct meetings with readers

Jesse Holcomb, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communication at Calvin University predicts that audiences will become smaller in size, but more obsessed in their news consumption.

Whilst data may be the most obvious tool to understand these audiences, it may not be enough. For Francesco Zaffarano, Editor-in-Chief of Will Media, 2022 is the year of in-person engagement with readers. This may be a breath of fresh air after the remote life imposed in many countries by COVID.

In 2021, Francesco’s Italian Media start-up Will Media embarked on a 40-day national road trip to do just this. The trip included 20 community meetings and 8 focus groups to meet 1,500 people in real life. Francesco hopes that this type of practise will become mainstream in 2022.

It was an unparalleled opportunity to build a better and more fruitful relationship with our audience. It showed people in our community that we care about their opinions, dreams, and expectations.

Francesco Zaffarano, Editor in Chief of Will Media

Creator economy and Media 3.0

Candace Amos from The Daily Beast predicts that 2022 is time for newsrooms to stop mocking the creator economy and start learning from it. Creators have been able to bulldoze the outdated pillars of traditional media and find new ways to reach audiences. Newsrooms must deploy tactics to learn from these creators in their bid to remain relevant.

If audience expansion and development tactics aren’t chief priorities in the new year, publications risk losing even more relevance.

Candace Amos, Director of Audience and Social Media at The Daily Beast.

Matt Karolian, General Manager of Boston.com shadows this belief. He predicts that 2022 may finally be the year where journalists themselves start to build upon their own audience. This is where he sees the beginning of “Media 3.0” companies that work through collaborations amongst creators. However, legacy media will continue to succeed through their reputation.

While it’s unlikely to unseat legacy media companies, it could create a distinct set of new opportunities, fueling a more vibrant news ecosystem.

Matt Karolian, General Manager of Boston.com and Platform Partnerships at Boston Globe Media

Other notable picks

Sadly, we’re unable to cover all of this year’s predictions. Therefore, we have added 7 further notable picks below.

Matthew Lynes
Media Innovation Analyst @ Twipe

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