What will news look like in the future? By John Dabell
They say that it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future!
That’s certainly true when it comes to the news. Things change so fast and life is always throwing us curveballs which means events can often shock, surprise and bewilder. Breaking news can hurt.
Raw news is in a constant state of flux and that’s what makes it so exhilarating. We don’t know what will happen next but when it does, it’s the reporting of it that really matters.
Information inequality means that lots of newsworthy events just don’t get reported or go underreported. Some news is noisy, some of it is buried. News reporting is an art and a science.
In 2015 the BBC presented the first Future of News project and said
“The job of the news is to keep everyone informed – to enable us to be better citizens, equipped with what we need to know. In the exciting, uneven and noisy internet age, the need for news – accurate and fair, insightful and independent – is greater than ever.”
Their full report can be read here.
Trying to spot trends that are likely to impact on the news might be like predicting the weather but that doesn’t stop us from trying. Everyone has an opinion and leading BBC staff and celebrity experts say what they think in this video.
Extra, extra, read all about it!
News has always been a very selective experience. What might be news to you isn’t necessarily news to me.
We choose news as consumers and news consumes us. We let a lot of news wash over us and yet we also wash ourselves in news on a daily basis.
The news manipulates us even if we think it doesn’t and it shapes our world views. It misleads us, misinforms us, polarises us and disengages us.
We are fed it, we eat it and some of it makes us sick. Then there is news that we can’t get enough of, it entertains us and we enjoy binging on it. News is really rather personal but maybe that’s the future of our news.
Editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, John Micklethwait says news is “re-emerging as something more digital, more personalized, more automated, more paid for—and (eventually) less fake.”
There is so much news happening at any one time, it’s impossible to get access to it in one place.
Perhaps the next step in the evolution of the news is news tailored to us specially compiled to suit our individual interest and tastes.
Companies love collecting data on us. Supermarkets do it all the time and make purchasing suggestions and recommendations to us based on our shopping habits and the information we give them.
The news is no different. Websites can collect and read our news preferences and build a profile of what sort of person we are.
Personalised news is the future so let’s imagine what this looks like.
Data about our education, occupations, hobbies and socio-economic level could easily be analysed by computers. These can then scan and thumb through the world’s newspapers, websites, television programmes and radio broadcasts on our behalf.
Whenever these ‘News Computers’ come across anything that dovetails with our character profile they then extract it, compile it into a news bundle to make personalised newspapers, online or paper.
Every page of this newspaper would be guaranteed to interest us because we’ve disclosed what we like. If we are hungry for a particular type of news and gossip then they will find it and deliver it.
Such a newspaper might easily be made up of: the front page of The Wall Street Journal , letters to The Times, the culture pages of Le Monde, the sports page from The Sun and the fashion tips from Elle with a selection of local news from the Whitby Gazette, the Liverpool Echo and WalesOnline.
Does this sound scary or exciting? Is this the future?
The thing is, it already exists!
You can download news aggregation apps and services such as Flipboard, News360, Feedly, Google News, Apple News, NewsNow and many more that pick out the news we are interested in or they compile news feeds from a variety of sources for users to customize and share with others.
News aggregation apps have been around for a relatively short time and they are gaining a lot of traction. They are popular because they are fully-automated and display breaking headlines linking to news websites all around the world on a continuous basis.
But even though news can be aggregated and personalised for us does this make us any better informed?
We can only ever receive a limited amount of information. There is simply no way of collecting every bit of news. So even though we can get news from a number of different channels this eventually just drowns us in information and we could just switch off.
If we limited the news to just one bulletin a day would that produce better and more thoughtful journalism?
Selecting and presenting information, curating the news and aggregating content has always been part of the role of journalism.
At the end of the day, we might think we select the news but it’s the news that selects us.