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Update Sept. 20, 2013: Barrett's presentation is now available.

Almost anyone can be an online news distributor nowadays. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn are becoming the dominant distributors of content. Facebook and YouTube were among the top sites people used to access digital news, according to a 2013 study by Frank N. Magid Associates.

This is just one trend Rob Barrett, Yahoo’s vice president of news and finance, shared during “Who will the news players be in 2018?” that he feels will likely be seen (and can already be seen) in the media industry in the next five years.

“The seeds of what I expect, and I know what a lot of people expect, will be trends and activities that will be much more dominant over the next five years and I think the journalists will play a big part in a number of pursuits that are not thought of as classic journalism,” said Barrett. “Working with corporations on content is one of them.”

Outsiders are now insiders

  1. Newsmakers will go direct (on Twitter et al.) Public figures often reach out to the public with their messages via social media instead of going directly to news media.
  2. Individuals are becoming self-sustaining (independent) brands More and more content creators are becoming independent and creating digital news startups.
  3. Corporations, such as Skyward, NewsCred and Content.ly, are creating their own newsrooms by hiring journalists to write or curate news for corporate websites.

This gives the company a chance to connect with customers and offer information they feel is valuable, said Barrett.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with this idea, and it provides work for people with journalism experience,” he said. “At the same time, there are of course risks, as readers/customers have to trust the company to be unbiased, and there is often no way of knowing whether they are unbiased.”

For journalism, the 2018 “field” is basically here

  1. News brands embrace (and compete with) social platforms.
    • A news organization’s website is small compared to social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter so more people can be reached by utilizing these platforms.
  2. News brands embrace (and compete with) free agents
    • More and more content creators are becoming more independent and creating their own news startups. Some journalists are creating their own identifies with new blogs within media companies.
  3. Social platforms and free agents reach “news brand” status
    • Almost anyone can be a curator and creator of news.
    • Free agents reach brand status by using new methods to achieve what traditional media did not.
    • For example, Nate Silver, a blogger who formerly worked with the New York Times, correctly predicted the 2012 U.S. presidential election in detail.
  4. News organizations have powerful role in ecosystem: verification, voice, habit.
    • Although almost anyone can be a content curator, not everyone is trained with a journalist’s eye to look at credibility.

“With so much information coming from social platforms, news organizations have a powerful opportunity to play a role of verifier — to sort facts from rumors,” said Barrett. “This is their traditional role. But they have to move much faster and use all available social tools to do it.”

Jennifer Nelson  
   
Senior Information Specialist



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