A sitting United States president has repeatedly called media “the enemy of the people” who publish only “fake news” to confuse and mislead voters. On the same day that more than 350 newspapers ran thoughtful editorials explaining that journalists are not the enemy, that president repeatedly assaulted the free press on Twitter, arguing that “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!” followed by “There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!” A week earlier, a stunning Ipsos poll showed that 43% of Republicans say that the president “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”
Meanwhile, it appears as though the platforms distributing news content are reluctant to address the problem head-on. Facebook, Twitter and Google have each made some efforts to confront the spread of misinformation, however in the digital realm attention is currency—and we keep proving the value of political vitriol, trolling and salacious content.
At the same time, we’ve seen the closure of even more news organizations in the past year, from the Village Voice, to a number of regional GateHouse newspapers, to Interview Magazine. There have been layoffs everywhere. Tronc cut the Daily News staff in half, for example—and this time around, new digital upstarts including Buzzfeed, Gizmodo Media Group, the Outline, Vice and Upworthy have also been forced to reorganize.
And yet, I feel hopeful about the year ahead. That’s because there are thousands of incredibly bright, talented, conscientious people working hard in our newsrooms, within corporate media, and inside tech companies, big and small. I’m also energized by the incredible technology on the horizon—it will not only help combat the spread of misinformation, it will offer creative solutions to funding quality news.
I’m reminded of something Helen Keller once said. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” I look at the horizon, and at the people working within our newsrooms, and I feel optimistic—but I know there’s hard work ahead.
That’s the reason we’ve put together this industry-specific report. I hope it will help your organization see opportunity as you plan for the future. Factor these trends into your strategic thinking for the coming year, and adjust your planning, operations and business models accordingly. As of the publication date, The Future Today Institute’s annual trend reports have garnered more than 7.5 million cumulative views. We’re glad to see so many leadership teams all around the world using these trends as part of a formal, ongoing process to reduce risk, harness new opportunities and drive change within their fields.
Regardless of what the next news cycle brings, always remember that the future is not yet written. It really is up to you and your organization. You have the power to create your preferred future, today.
– Amy Webb