With the start of a new year and new decade for the news industry, we at the News Media Alliance asked our Alliance Insiders to share some thoughts on what they were most looking forward to. This year we were also excited to see how the events of the past year changed perspectives from 2019.
Survey respondents were asked, as in 2019, to rank a number of issues in order of their potential impact on the news industry. This year, the top-ranked issue was “Audience/Community Engagement” – which shared the top spot last year with “Decline in Advertising”, suggesting that publishers are still trying to figure out the right way to continually meet reader needs in an ever-changing landscape. In one Insider’s own words, “Without an audience of size and value – what’s the point?”
Other high-ranked issues likely to impact the industry included declines in advertising revenues, talent and recruiting, and disinformation/misinformation. But there is still a connection between those topics and keeping audiences engaged and invested in getting news. As one respondent pointed out, “If we lose credibility in the eyes of readers, it doesn’t matter what news and insights we provide because it will fail to reach the audience & ultimately we’ll fade away.”
Most survey respondents said that publication branding was not likely to have a major impact on the industry in 2020, but we do recommend that publishers keep an eye on this issue. As maintaining subscriber relationships and audience engagement continues to grow in importance, having a robust brand value in subscribers’ minds will help ensure a strong future.
As in 2019, we asked the Insiders to share what they are most looking forward to this year. The responses aligned with the overall themes of the survey, but also showed that publishers are still feeling optimistic, despite some challenges. Three forward-looking events that some members anticipate are:
“Tipping point where the industry finally achieves digital revenue success.”
“Continuation of current trend of young people getting into journalism”
“Innovative ideas to capture readers and revenue”
The team at the News Media Alliance is looking forward to these and more. We are always interested in hearing what our members think are the major issues. If you are not already an Alliance Insider, we invite you to join the Alliance Insider program by applying here. All roles and functions within the news organization are welcome to join; the only requirement is that you be employed at an Alliance news organization. We send no more than six short surveys annually, and in exchange for your input, you will receive access to select Alliance reports (e.g. audience & circulation, digital subscriptions, etc.) and other tools and materials first, before they are released to the full membership.
Rebecca is VP, Research & Insights at the News Media Alliance.