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April 2023, subscribe to the newsletter

What is the role of journalistic media? They bring news and describe what is happening in the world, of course. But more and more are finding out that this is not enough. News outlets will have to work hard in the coming years to stay relevant to their audiences. In this newsletter, we highlight some challenges, but also examples of those that are already navigating this tricky path with finesse and ingenuity.

  • "With ChatGPT you can start to think about news in very, very different ways: rebuild the article, rebuild the news experience, beyond using AI doing what we already do", said Gina Chua (Semafor) during a session at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia last week. AI is looking like it will present the industry with a massive paradigm shift in the way we create and distribute information.
  • Solutions journalism is something to watch. Read on for a summary of a good session at Perugia on this - and an explanatory article from our own dossier.

Website visits are under pressure

We already know that global visits to news sites are decreasing after the Covid crisis. Over the last year, interest in the largest news sites also declined

In the wake of this, news brands are less frequently appearing in Google's search results. In general, the visibility of the 68 largest Western sites decreased by 20% in 2022, according to research published recently by Press Gazette. At The Guardian, visibility dropped by 36% due to changes in the Google algorithm.

Twitter contributes little to traffic (and is unreliable)

At the same time, Twitter is making life difficult for journalists by removing the blue checkmarks that were supposed to ensure reliability (these checkmarks are still available, but for a price). Some media organisations with a large number of followers were given the seal of reliability a few days later, but hastened to say that they did not pay for it. The aversion to sending money to Elon Musk speaks volumes.

Meanwhile, Twitter is also pulling the plug on services that make it easy for media to see how much traffic is coming to their websites via the social medium. Twitter wants to be paid for that in the future. However, the influence - and benefit - of social media on the reach of media is greatly overestimated. For all the news sites that have smartocto the percentage of traffic coming via Twitter is less than 1 percent (to compare: on average, 4 percent comes via Facebook). You’re left wondering whether or not it’s necessary to put much effort (and money) into it at all. The big tech companies simply aren’t proving to be such reliable partners. There’s a reason that Buzzfeed was so vulnerable.

Less than 1% of all traffic on news sites comes via Twitter.

We can help you understand what's going on at Twitter. Get in touch.

Find solutions for your audience - and for your medium

Start here...

It is logical that media are increasingly focusing on their direct relationship with their audience and increasing their value to that audience. The Fix points to three pillars that make this possible: newsletters, podcasts, and mobile apps. And those apps may need to contain more than just the core business. News publishers have been expanding their digital offerings to include more non-news content by going into verticals such as games, recipes, and reference content.

Read it

There’s also a growing interest in solutions journalism - the category under which you can find constructive journalism and service journalism. In this blog, we discuss the differences and ways to introduce these forms in your newsroom.

Watch it

Solutions journalism really comes into its own when covering climate change. At Perugia, Lisa Urlbauer from the Bonn Institute discussed the power of solutions journalism with Tina Lee, editor-in-chief of Unbias the News, Ruona Meyer, who manages the Africa Initiative at the Solutions Journalism Network, and Calille Padilla Dalmau, whose project, ‘9 milliones’, uses solutions journalism to reach Puerto Ricans around the world. They talked about the skills that climate journalists need to support communities, so they can better understand the global crisis and not tune out.

Study it

The Bonn Institute has even set up a course on constructive journalism for anyone who wants to know how to get visitors to take action. Solutions journalism is also included in the user needs model that we recently presented: Inspire me, Connect me, and Help me are the needs that you can address well with this type of information provision. You’ll need to take a different approach than you’re used to, but believe us: it’ll be worth the effort.

reading tips

  • There were warning signs for Buzzfeed, which had to shut down its news section. In 2017, BuzzFeed was receiving more than 50% of its traffic from platforms — setting it up for trouble when the algorithms changed and social traffic to news sites plummeted. Here's a history of BuzzFeed News.
  • This report (free to Inma members) focuses on how news media companies can benefit from quick wins with generative AI. The report covers the blossoming of AI in the public consciousness, what generative AI does well, governance and legal considerations, and a checklist of achievable goals for newsrooms.
  • The publishers of a German magazine that ran an 'interview' with Michael Schumacher generated by artificial intelligence have sacked the editor and apologised to the family of the Formula One legend.
  • Twenty percent of female journalists experience offline harm connected to online threats, abuse and harassment, according to research by UNESCO and ICFJ. A key recommendation is to monitor online abuse and introduce preventative measures.

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