While the Alliance works hard to stay on top of changes impacting the news industry, we wanted to better understand what our member organizations see as the top issues and trends. To promote an ongoing dialogue with members, we’ve created an opportunity for members to share their opinions with us and help us plan for the future by becoming Alliance Insiders. Several members have already taken us up on the opportunity and joined the Insiders, and we hope to continue to grow participation in the program as the year progresses.
To kick off the program, in January we asked the Insiders what they see as the biggest issues likely to shape 2019, as well as what they’re most looking forward to this year. Here is what they had to say (all responses are anonymous).
Issues Likely to Shape 2019
The two biggest issues to watch, according to Insiders? “Audience/community engagement” and “declines in advertising revenue.” As one Insider explained, “The only way news media will grow is to increase audience interaction and engagement. Only then will they see the value in paying for content.”
Others cited “the trend toward direct reader revenue (subscriptions, donations, membership, etc.)” Another Insider sees “more and more of a trend in the subscription economy toward how we build loyalty with our users. I think this will become more evident as we move through 2019.” To this end, the Alliance will have a new edition of its Digital Subscriptions report for members available soon, with the latest digital subscription numbers and case studies from news organizations that have seen recent success with attracting and retaining digital subscribers.
Insiders also mentioned the “behavior of the digital platforms (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.)” as a top concern. The Alliance is very active and vocal on the activities of the tech platforms as they pertain to news publishers, and through our Digital Dialogue initiative, we share how we are working with the platforms to ensure a better deal for publishers.
Some themes also emerged when we asked Insiders what they were most anticipating for 2019. Some things they expect to change and evolve:
- Revenue channels
- Tech companies
- Audience engagement
One Insider comment summarized the relationship between all four top issues poignantly: “GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), and a select group of other technology platforms, control human attention. Without attention, we have no engagement. Without engagement, we have no revenue. Without revenue, we have no way to pay for journalism. Without journalism, we have an uninformed society. Without an informed society, we have… chaos.”
We will continue to check in with the Alliance Insiders throughout the year to see how their thoughts on these topics have changed and what new issues emerge. The Alliance Insiders is open to members who would like to share their opinions on industry topics and trends. The responses will be used to inform future Alliance content that will benefit the membership. Responses will always be kept anonymous. Anyone from a member news organization can apply here.
Rebecca is VP, Research & Insights at the News Media Alliance.