Our 2019 challenges: Voice, Visual Journalism and Verification

Next year, our profession will have to overcome a VVV challenge. We value your help in shaping the upcoming GEN Summit to be held in Athens (13–15 June 2019), so please reach out to us if you have any suggestions for speakers, sessions and new formats of interaction with the audience.

Bertrand Pecquerie
Sep 20, 2018 · 6 min read

Anticipating months in advance what the next hot topics of the news industry will be is becoming more and more difficult every year because of the speed of media innovation: how can we predict what will be relevant for an editor-in-chief in June 2019 during the winter? Nevertheless, at the Global Editors Network, we like to take risks and, so far, they have paid off: in 2017, we said that there was a platform crisis and in 2018, we focused the GEN Summit on AI, machine learning and blockchain.

What can we expect for June 2019? What cannot be missed by you, GEN friends, editors-in-chief, media innovators, professors of journalism, or senior news executives?

After several missions in Europe and the US (not yet in Asia this year), I believe that our profession will have to overcome a VVV challenge: Voice, Visual Journalism and Verification.

  1. Voice and Voice AI are the obvious topic for 2019. All the editors who I met in the last six months have become obsessed with smart speakers offered by Amazon, Google and Apple. There are already 47 million smart speakers next to people’s couches in the United States and there are 220 million adults in the country. According to Chartbeat, this number could double in the next six months. It means this mass phenomenon will very soon have a serious impact on how news will be consumed. Who will be the winners of this new battle? Big conglomerates, local news providers, or infotainment companies? What will the speed of adoption be in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa? It seems obvious that countries with strong public or private broadcasters will be at the top of the evolution, but what about new agile players?
  2. Visual journalism - and video - will be our second challenge. Kevin Delaney, Quartz editor, said that we’re entering ‘the golden age of video journalism’, an idea that I am taking very seriously, even if the “pivot to video” strategy failed for some media organisations. It means YouTube videos will lose their current monopoly in the upcoming years. Think about the new wave of live events, anticipate news shows on Facebook Watch and very soon on Netflix, imagine new formats based on vertical or square videos on Snap and Instagram. 2019 will be the year of new storytelling methods based on a real integration of texts, sounds, videos and data-vizs. New software will help us to conceive new ways of telling stories, as well as AR experiments on your smartphones or new devices such as smart glasses or smart watches.
  3. Verification will be the third challenge. Journalists will continue to fight misinformation, propaganda, and rumours, especially as disputed general elections are coming up in several countries in the coming year. This without forgeting the European elections at the end of May, three weeks before our Athens conference. Rather than just producing news, journalists must today verify and control what happens on social media and closed messaging apps. At the GEN Summit, verification will not be limited to fact-checking, it will have a broader sense because the accumulation of fake news is undermining our democracies and is distracting citizens to vote and to defend democratic values.

Setting up 25 sessions and panels and selecting 80+ speakers is always tough, seeing as you cannot cover the whole spectrum of media innovation in three days. I’m not saying that Google — AMP data or the Facebook algorithm is no longer an issue, I’m not forgetting that all media organisations are still looking for the graal — a sustainable business model –, but at GEN we believe we have to move forward and take risks.

We are proud to announce our keynote speakers:

  • Katharine Viner, Editor-in-Chief, Guardian News & Media
  • John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg
  • Amy Webb, Futurist & Founder of the Future Today Institute

We also welcome our first confirmed lecturers, speakers and moderators:

  • Cory Haik, Former Publisher, Mic
  • Rasmus Nielsen, Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
  • Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor, Rappler
  • Jim Roberts, Editor-in-Chief, Cheddar

We will also invite provokers from outside the media box, but they will be announced later.

Regarding the day-to-day programme, a first draft will be announced in January, but we are working on the following sessions and panels:

  • Journalism goes to Hollywood
  • The tokenisation of news: can blockchain help journalism?
  • Towards the first automated newsrooms
  • Why news apps work so well (for the user and the publisher)
  • From Messaging apps to conversational journalism
  • Personalisation versus Privacy
  • How to schedule alerts and push notifications
  • More podcasts with more smart speakers?
  • How to monetise live-streamed news shows
  • Time to regulate platforms?
  • AI for small newsrooms
  • The future of cloud journalism (collaboration, security, etc)
  • The impact of audience fragmentation
  • Will non-profit news organisations and member-funded journalism overtake for-profit legacy media

For us, tomorrow starts today and it is the reason why we believe in this VVV challenge for 2019: Voice, Visual Journalism and Verification. We value your help in shaping this conference, so please reach out to us if you have any suggestions for speakers, sessions and new formats of interaction with the audience at bpecquerie@globaleditorsnetwork.org

Last word: why Athens from Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 June 2019?

Athens is becoming a trendy city located under the famous world heritage Acropolis. You will appreciate its friendly atmosphere at mid-June when the weather is just perfect. GEN would like to celebrate the Greek Renaissance after many years of crisis in a unique venue designed and built by Renzo Piano: the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC).

This special eco-building gathers the new Athens Opera and the Greek National Public Library constructed with a 500 million euros investment — the most important in Europe in recent years. At the SNFCC, you will enjoy variety of conference rooms with an extraordinary quality of sound and also the Lighthouse, on top of the building, for networking with friends and colleagues.

The venue has an exceptional location overlooking the sea and the surrounding islands, a few kilometers from the city centre of Athens. This establishment will fit for all type of events you would like to organize, including meetings, workshops, lunch and dinner, fair stand exhibitions, product presentations, etc.

The new terminals at the Athens International Airport and its efficient public transportation will also facilitate your journey to and from the capital of Greece.

Enjoy Athens, enjoy the cultural center, enjoy the GEN Summit! See you soon and get your ticket to the GEN Summit here!

Bertrand Pecquerie, GEN CEO

Global Editors Network

The Global Editors Network (GEN) is a community committed to sustainable journalism and media innovation. GEN runs different programmes: Editors Lab, Startups for News, and the Data Journalism Awards.

Bertrand Pecquerie

Written by

CEO of the Global Editors Network, the worldwide association for editors-in-chief (from all platforms)

Global Editors Network

The Global Editors Network (GEN) is a community committed to sustainable journalism and media innovation. GEN runs different programmes: Editors Lab, Startups for News, and the Data Journalism Awards.