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Nieman Lab’s Predictions for 2024: Twipe’s Top Picks 

3 January 2024
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Every December, Nieman Lab releases predictions from industry leaders about the upcoming year. We’ve chosen our top 10 predictions from their list of over 140 for 2024.

This year’s predictions revolved around several critical themes such as AI, news consumption patterns, the role of journalism in democracy, the importance of local and community-focused journalism, misinformation and media ethics, and media business models.

1. The Web Floods with AI Content – Ben Werdmuller 

AI has completely changed how content is created in journalism. Ben Werdmuller, an independent technology leader working in public interest journalism, foresees a significant increase in how much content newsrooms will generate with AI. While using AI-generated content can cut costs and boost pageviews, it can also lead to an over-saturated web, making it challenging for traditional search engines and SEO tactics to remain effective.  

Instead, Werdmuller emphasises the importance of direct, authentic engagement with audiences and advocates for a move away from institutional authority towards community participation. While AI can mimic simple reporting, it cannot effectively replicate the depth of investigative journalism or represent diverse communities. 

Key takeaway: Newsrooms that focus on deep, investigative journalism and community engagement will thrive amidst the AI content flood. 

Read the prediction in full 

2. AI changes everything…and nothing – Cindy Royal 

Cindy Royal, a professor and director of the Media Innovation Lab at Texas State University, discusses the future of AI and its impact on information access and distribution. Her prediction reflects on how AI will transform how we search and interact with data. However, she is also concerned about misinformation and bias it can bring. 

“Get knowledgeable, but be critical”, she says, understanding that it is essential to use the tools at our disposal while being aware of their shortcomings. 

Key takeaway: While AI will become more integrated in our daily tasks, the importance of staying informed and critical about its ethical and societal implications will grow. 

Read the prediction in full 

3. Journalists abandon social media, and news audiences follow (eventually) – Jacob L. Nelson 

Jacob L. Nelson, an assistant professor at the University of Utah, believes that the idea that social media scepticism has risen due to the rise of misinformation and the diminishing benefits of platforms like X (previously Twitter) and TikTok.  

In 2024, he predicts that journalists will increasingly seek to bypass these platforms, focusing instead on direct audience engagement through newsletters and other means. This shift aims to enhance public understanding and trust in reputable news sources, acknowledging the challenge of changing public perceptions of social media as reliable information sources. 

Key takeaway: Journalists will increasingly seek alternatives to social media for news dissemination and audience engagement due to the growing challenges of misinformation, abuse, and declining platform benefits. 

Read the prediction in full 

4. Publishers’ short video strategy is put to the test – Snigdha Sur 

Snigdha Sur, founder of the Juggernaut, discusses the unique challenges 2024 presents for journalism, with major elections in the U.S. and India to take place this year. More and more young people get their news from easily digestible short videos, such as TikTok or Instagram Reels. Newsrooms that do not produce or adapt content for short-video formats will lose out to others who are willing to commit to this strategy. 

“Newsrooms that don’t start testing these short video formats won’t be able to engage an audience hungry for information in an unstable political year” 

Snigdha Sur

Key takeaway: Newsrooms will need to evolve this year to produce content in new mediums that resonates with their audience, especially in this politically-charged year. 

Read the prediction in full 

5. We get past “post-platform” – Sarah Marshall 

Sarah Marshall, audience development strategy team at Condé Nast, predicts that with the proliferation of platforms and generative AI, teams face the challenge of choosing where to engage audiences.  

Marshall suggests that news organizations need new frameworks for prioritizing platforms based on user needs. She outlines six audience needs (Update, Inspire, Divert, Educate, Guide, Connect) as a guide for content strategies across various platforms. The prediction emphasizes the importance of direct audience relationships and efficient use of platforms to meet specific audience needs, advocating for a “less is more” approach rather than focusing on being on as many platforms as possible. 

Read the prediction in full 

6. Refocus on what really drives growth – Matt Karolian 

Matt Karolian, general manager of Boston.com and platform partnerships at Boston Globe Media, reflects on the past decade’s trends in news media, highlighting the challenges publishers face with shifts in social media, video content, and political events. He critiques the move towards off-domain strategies like email newsletters and podcasts, noting their lack of long-term sustainability.  

Karolian’s prediction suggests the industry needs to pivot towards more reliable, value-driven strategies, emphasising the importance of optimising owned assets and strengthening direct reader relationships. 

Key takeaway: Find more sustainable and profitable approaches in the news industry, moving away from fleeting trends and towards strategies that ensure long-term growth and stability. 

Read the prediction in full 

7. News avoiders shouldn’t be ignored – Ruth Palmer 

Ruth Palmer, associate professor of communication and digital media at IE University in Madrid, addresses the challenge of engaging with news avoiders. She emphasises the difference between selective news avoiders, who occasionally tune out but stay informed, and consistent news avoiders, who disengage entirely.  

People in disadvantaged groups, particularly poor, young, and women are more likely to be consistent news avoiders. If they completely turn away from news, they will be less informed and less able to speak up for themselves in a political environment that is already biased towards powerful groups. It is challenging to address consistent news avoidance, but it is necessary for the news media to fulfil its mission and value proposition. 

Key takeaway: Journalists needs to address and engage consistently with news avoiders, as it is crucial to maintaining an informed public and healthy democracy. 

Read the prediction in full 

8. Journalism needs to learn how to defend itself – Philip Bump 

This prediction emphasises the urgency for journalism to defend itself against distrust and misinformation. Philip Bump, a columnist for the Washington Post, criticises the passive approach traditionally taken by media outlets and advocates for a more proactive stance in countering criticisms and falsehoods. He argues that the survival of journalism depends on its ability to confront and correct misinformation aggressively, suggesting a need to rethink communication and correction strategies. 

“…doing nothing to defend journalism from either slow erosion or violent explosion is a way to ensure that journalism collapses far more rapidly.” 

Philip Bump

Key takeaway: The future of journalism hinges on its willingness to defend the truth and its integrity actively. 

Read the prediction in full 

9. Returning to a Contextual Focus – Thomas Baekdal 

Thomas Baekdal, media analyst and founder of Baekdal, critiques the current state of advertising in journalism, highlighting the disconnect between the profitability of programmatic advertising for ad-tech companies and its ineffectiveness for publishers. It emphasises the issue of low-quality content production driven by ad revenue and the impact on journalistic value. The post advocates for a return to contextual advertising, suggesting it as a more effective and relevant model for publishers. 

Key takeaway: Publishers need to shift focus from programmatic to contextual advertising for better revenue and journalistic integrity. 

Read the prediction in full 

10. Publishers keep trying to extract revenue from Google – Anya Schiffrin 

Anya Schiffrin, director of the media technology specialization at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, discusses the efforts of news publishers worldwide to secure fair compensation from tech giants like Google and Meta for news content usage. It details the push for transparent agreements, fair payment, and the inclusion of smaller outlets in these negotiations. The prediction also highlights these platforms’ ongoing struggles and strategies in response to these demands. 

Key takeaway: The battle for equitable remuneration in the news industry will continue, marking a shift in how major tech platforms value and compensate news content. 

Read the prediction in full 

Conclusion 

These forecasts highlight a pivotal shift: from the rise of AI-driven content to a renewed focus on traditional media and direct audience engagement. The industry is at a crucial crossroads, facing challenges like misinformation and economic sustainability while exploring innovative ways to adapt and thrive. 

As we move through 2024, these insights offer a roadmap for journalists and publishers, emphasising the need for adaptability, ethical integrity, and a deeper connection with audiences. The future of journalism, as painted by these predictions, is dynamic and demands a proactive and thoughtful approach to embrace the changes ahead. 

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