Written by Sacha Morard, CTO/CIO at Le Monde
What will the newspaper industry look like in 10 years time?
This question may seem incipient to those who are not in the media business. To me, it seems that the technological future of journalism will have a much greater impact than we think, especially since the press is currently living through a pivotal moment in history. With the crises that we are experiencing, we see that the press is subject to a lot of criticism – which is not necessarily bad – and that its critics are multiplying. The press, however, fulfils its public service mission during times of crisis. They do this of course by informing the population, but also by helping the population to change things. But to be able to fulfil these roles, it is necessary to establish a relationship of trust with its readers.
In fact, the recent work of Reuters “Executive summary and key findings of the 2021 report” tells us that, even if slowed down by the COVID crisis, the trust of the population towards the information that is delivered to them declines year after year. The news media have a lot of trouble obtaining and then cultivating the trust of their readers. It seems to me that this is a challenge that innovation should enable us to meet.
Technology is also at a turning point. Most of the objects around us are digital and connected. In fact, as you read these sentences, they are transmitting a large volume of data to servers, servers which are not necessarily close to you. We have just connected to 5G and we are already talking about 6G. Financial investments in tech have never been higher. According to some experts, the digital industry emits nearly 4% of the world’s greenhouse gases and this figure is increasing dramatically every year.
Meanwhile, gradually, and rightfully so, users are becoming more and more suspicious about the respect of their personal data, their right to disconnect, digital sobriety and various other topics arising as a result of the digital age. Much like the news media, the entire digital industry also needs to establish a better relationship of trust with its users.
Let’s imagine that tomorrow, most newspapers have a new artificial intelligence technology able to verify information. Then imagine that at the same time, someone unscrupulous discovers an algorithmic bias and uses it to manipulate the readers’ opinion. I’ll let you imagine the possible amalgamation…
This catastrophic scenario could contribute to the degradation of the population’s confidence in the media and even in innovation itself. We must pay more attention to the public. Across all industry’s, we must build this trust.
Trust is a pillar that provides the foundation for innovation
You could be the greatest creative genius, imagining with excellence what our world will become, but if you are known as the greatest liar, no one will give credit to your work. This is why it seems to me that the technological future of the news is a very important issue. It will be an issue at the forefront of media companies in the years to come.
Many technological innovations are here, as are opportunities that must be seized to design the future of our companies. Others that we have not yet imagined will emerge in the next few years, and will gladly drive out the previous ones that were not so innovative. It seems to me that the most important thing is to use innovation as a support to the execution of our missions.
I am honoured to be invited as a speaker at the upcoming Digital Growth Summit, where I will have the pleasure of imagining with prestigious colleagues what the news industry will look like in 2031. At the summit, I will talk more specifically about what innovation is, what it is for and how it happens, and then I will have the opportunity to look closely at the different technological opportunities that will help us shape the future of news. I hope to see you there for what promises to be a thought-provoking and insightful summit.