It’s that time of year again where the world of journalism is inundated with year-in-review features and predictions about the coming year. I’ve seen several predictions from experts in the field about what is in store for Journalism in 2018.
Many of our journalist brethren are predicting 2018 will be the end of journalism as we know it, while others are looking at the same data and saying that the new year will be a rebirth and that the best is yet to come. I’d like to add my two or three cents to the mix.
Granted, I don’t have a journalism school or a think-tank behind my prognostications, just my own experience from my small corner of the industry, so take these with an appropriately-sized grain of salt. Here goes nuthin’:
- CNN will continue to lean to the left in an effort to chase ratings, Fox News will continue to lean right in the same pursuit and MSNBC will continue its orbit of Pluto for God knows what reason. Meanwhile, audiences will continue to equate these three cable networks with “the media” as a whole.
- Cries of “fake news” will continue to haunt journalists, and no amount of fact-checking is going to assuage the critics. This is about politics, afterall, and reality will always take a backseat for extreme partisans on either side.
- I see in my crystal ball more layoffs in print newsrooms. Just kidding. There is no crystal ball. The cost of newsprint is rising again, so that’s why you’re going to see layoffs.
- Disappointed that their attempts to “pivot to video” failed, news organizations will pivot to something equally desperate and wrong-headed. My money (all two or three cents of it) is on gifs. Of course, once news organizations realize that audiences won’t want to watch 30 seconds of preroll video in front of a gif, they’ll have to pivot to something else.
- Google and Facebook will continue to dominate the digital advertising market by selling advertising for pennies. Publishers will continue to grovel at their feet and do whatever it takes to make their new overlords happy.
- The White House press corps will continue to believe that the briefing room is the be-all-end-all of White House coverage and will not be bothered to look for actual stories that may happen outside of it.
- The comments section will continue to be a disaster area.
- Reporters are still going to get calls and letters from conspiracy theorists, neighbors who can’t work out their own problems with each other, lonely prisoners, and “informants” who believe the government has planted listening devices in their ears.
- Newspapers will keep trying to find ways to make readers pay for online news after decades of selling subscriptions for 30 cents per day and conditioning readers not to believe news content has value.
- Journalists will continue to obsess over Twitter and will report isolated and uninformed tweets as “news” because if your drunk neighbor says it, it’s crazy-talk, but if he says it on Twitter it is important and newsworthy.
- Facebook will continue to diminish the reach of legitimate news publishers all the while assuring them, “Hey, we’re on your side. Give us five bucks and we’ll boost that post to 5,000 people who already like your page.”
- News organizations will publish and broadcast science and medical stories that scare the bejeezus out of people because reporters still don’t understand the difference in causation and correlation.
- As newsrooms continue to shrink, press release journalism will become more and more normal.
- Expect online readers to continue only reading the headline and first 3 paragraphs before commenting about something they think wasn’t in the story.
- Facebook users will continue to blindly share news without clicking on the story. But the headline looks nice, and my friends will like it.
- Entertainment news and scandal will continue to be the major drivers of ratings and web traffic.
- Journalists will continue to operate under the assumption that what is important to journalists and in newsrooms is what is important to audiences.
- Local broadcast networks will keep covering apartment fires like they are the second-coming.
TL;DR: Expect the new year to look just the same as the old year for journalism. Realistically, changes in journalism — for good or for bad — take time. This isn’t going to be “the year” for anything in journalism, but it will be another year to make small changes and innovations that could build over time.