As conversations on what 2023 holds for journalism continue, there has not been a shortage of predictions and forecasts on what the media and journalism might look like in the coming months.
In spite of the many studies, think pieces and columns like this one, the fact is nobody truly knows — or can predict — the future of journalism.
That said, one cannot help but point out several trends that will impact journalism in the coming months and possibly years. Today, I will focus on three emerging trends.
The first trend has to do with audiences. It is a known fact that audiences are at the core of any journalistic endeavour, and this has become more apparent in the digital age where audiences are in control of the content they consume.
Audiences have also become more fragmented along demographic and psychographic categories, making it much more difficult for media to apply a one-size-fits-all audience engagement strategy.
In the coming months and years, research has shown that journalists will concentrate more effort on understanding and attracting the millennials and Gen X audiences.
This is, first, due to their large numbers and also because these two groups are more tech-savvy and tend to sign up for paid content subscriptions such as Netflix, Apple Music and Spotify.
Millennials and GenX
Recently, a study by Muck Rack that surveyed 2,226 journalists from the US, Asia, Africa and Europe found that millennials and Gen X “are the most commonly reported target audiences” for journalists, with nearly 60 per cent of the respondents saying they particularly targeted the millennials.
Already, a lot of resources have been dedicated to attracting these two groups and in the coming months and years and we expect to see the media doubling down on these efforts.
The relationship between journalists and social media has been a tough one, to say the least. In the coming months, research has shown that journalists — and the media in general — will be putting less effort into Facebook and Twitter, instead, they plan to spend more time with other platforms such as TikTok, LinkedIn and YouTube.
The focus on TikTok and YouTube will mostly be due to publishers’ prioritisation of video formats — which, by the way, have proven very powerful.
This move might also be connected to the first point above on the main target audiences for the media, that is millennials and Gen X.
Another interesting fact is that Google recently revealed that about 40 per cent of young people in the Western markets use TikTok and Instagram rather than Google search while looking for information on products and places to visit.
While we are yet to have data on this new trend in African markets, one would not be surprised to find a similar trend among African millennials and Gen X.
The last trend connected to the two above is the popularity of short-form videos for storytelling, which journalists believe will play a significant role in the delivery of storytelling for the millennials and Gen X — especially on YouTube and TikTok.
Dr Chege is a media, innovation and technology researcher; [email protected]