Partnerships, technology way to go for media
There have been several ideas, theories and suggestions that have been used to explain the future of media and journalism.
Some have noted - and rightfully so - that in the future, media viability will be fully dependent on reader revenue in the form of subscriptions and memberships.
Others have noted that technology will continue to disrupt newsrooms while others have predicted that robots and artificial intelligence will eventually replace journalists and editors.
We have also heard some interesting ideas that there will come a time when society will ‘not need’ the media anymore, thanks to social media platforms where ‘everyone is now a journalist’.
While we might not know what exactly the future might hold, what we do know, based on current trends is that the future of the media will definitely be hinged on two key things; technology and strategic partnerships.
In recent months, we have seen media organisations sign strategic partnerships with key players in the technology industry to explore opportunities for media sustainability by experimenting with emerging technologies.
We have also seen media using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and big data to anchor their new business models, specifically paywalls and audience engagement.
We have seen media get into training partnerships with technology and media development partners to retool and reskill their journalists on the latest best practices in storytelling, design thinking and the use of technology.
It has become very clear to the media that navigating digital disruption cannot be an inside job, it has to be a collaborative effort with technology players, audiences, advertisers and sometimes with government institutions.
One such partnership is the Media Viability Accelerator (MVA), a partnership between Internews, USAID, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Free Press Limited, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD0), News Consulting Group and Sembra Media.
It is an interesting partnership that will create an online platform to support media organisations to be more financially sustainable through access to market insights and media business solutions. In this arrangement, Microsoft will support the partnership with AI solutions that will help in data aggregation, analysis and cloud services.
This is one of many partnerships that will shape the media industry going forward. In the future, we should expect to see more arrangements between media players and technology players coming together to find solutions around media sustainability and especially partnerships that will facilitate technology and knowledge transfer to the media industry.
As the media pivots towards native advertising and digital agencies, we should expect to see more content partnerships with advertisers. This has become a solid revenue stream that established news organisations such as The New York Times and The Guardian have been perfecting for the last couple of years.
While these partnerships take shape, there are bound to be conversations about media’s independence and objectivity when it comes to content partnerships. The inevitable truth is, partnerships and technology will play a significant role in the future media. We therefore must have tough conversations on what this means for media – even if it means applying some disruptive thinking.
Dr Chege is a media, innovation and technology researcher; [email protected]