The New News

type - trends
sector - media & technology
As consumers seek an alternative to the 24-hour news cycle, media outlets are racing to re-invent themselves for the next generation.

Drivers : what's happening

The 24-hour news cycle should empower and inform audiences. Instead, it’s leading to higher stress levelsanxiety and feelings of powerlessness. Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter highlights the shifting sands of the industry, and how platforms and publications are becoming the playthings of the ultra-rich. The takeover prompted an exodus of users to the decentralised German platform Mastodon, but a growing number of consumers are choosing to opt out entirely. In the US, news consumption across all platforms decreased significantly in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021 (source: Axios).

A widespread decline of trust is one of the main reasons that news outlets are haemorrhaging readers. According to a report by market research company Gallup, 28% of American adults claim they don’t have much confidence in newspapers, tv and radio, while 38% have none at all. This is the first time in the company’s history that the proportion of Americans with no faith in the media is bigger than the group with a great deal or fair amount.

While scandals like Cambridge Analytica may have tainted the reputation of companies like Facebook, this hasn’t stopped younger consumers from migrating to newer platforms. Nearly a quarter of US adults under 30 rely on TikTok for news (source: Quartz).

But legacy outlets face more problems than new competitors and dwindling reader trust. With the rise of streaming services, subscription fatigue is affecting all media and entertainment verticals. Some 53% of readers try to bypass digital publishers’ paywalls without paying and nearly 9% of new subscribers cancel their subscription within 24 hours (sources: National Research GroupPiano). Bloomberg estimates that media companies are having their worst year in three decades (source: Bloomberg). Below, we look at some of the new companies navigating the post-pandemic news landscape.

Published by:

24 January 2023

Author: Lavinia Fasano

Image: The Verge identity by Vox Media, US


The News Movement, US

Case studies : what's new

The News Movement

The News Movement, a media company with an emphasis on social media, is meeting young consumers where they are. The company, which was founded by two former Dow Jones and BBC executives, currently has 64,000 TikTok, 19,300 YouTube, 6,900 Twitter and 5,700 Instagram followers. Most of the audience are very young: people aged under 24 account for more than half of the platform's TikTok and YouTube views (source: Reuters). On TikTok, the platform specialises in short, snappy videos that mix popular culture with sociopolitical events. At the time of writing, a video about the celebrity Lindsay Lohan sits next to a film about world population figures, a high-low mix that is likely to appeal to a younger audience.

The Verge

Instead of coasting on the success that already made it one of Vox Media’s most successful platforms, The Verge has redesigned its website to appeal to a new generation of readers. Perhaps most remarkably, the editorial team have decided to stop covering the countless minor events that make up a typical news day and instead direct readers to rival publications where they were originally discussed. Rather than spending time writing about Elon Musk’s latest tweet, for example, the team can direct readers to the tweet itself, freeing up time for more meaningful reporting and analysis. By including stories from rival outlets, the website is also becoming a portal to some of the best technology writing across the web, another factor that will encourage readers to return.

Analysis : what this means 

It’s a tough time for legacy newspapers and media outlets. Post-truth politics and social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok have profoundly altered the way that we distribute and consume news. What’s more, the 24-hour news cycle has left people feeling tired and disenfranchised, something which we explored in our most recent macrotrend, The Paralysis Paradox.

To regain relevance in the public realm, newspapers will have to address the crisis of trust that afflicts the entire industry. By presenting a range of perspectives across the political and geographical spectrum, Semafor is trying to depolarise the press. With the influence of cancel culture on the decline, a greater desire for conversations across the political divide is growing. In our microtrend, Provocation Platforms, we explore how social media can encourage healthy debate among users.

For many companies, this will require returning to the basics, and reconsidering the primary purpose of news platforms today. By creating a space for rival publications to reach new audiences, The Verge is showing that its greatest point of difference lies in its ability to curate content to craft its own point of view. More companies would benefit from taking a similar approach to competition, especially considering the current media business model incentivises journalists to copy each other by covering the same topics, creating an excess of extremely similar articles.

With widespread subscription fatigue, it would also benefit companies to consider more radical subscription models, especially as the cost of living crisis causes readers to tighten their purse strings. Here, companies have a chance to learn from the rise of Squad Subscriptions, where subscriptions are becoming tools to generate passive income.

‘People feel massively overwhelmed by the news and yet at the same time don’t really know what to trust. And so we were thinking: ‘Okay, how could we, if we were starting from scratch, kind of go at those problems?’’
Ben Smith, co-founder, Semafo

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