Our 2019 challenges: Voice, Video and new Visual Journalism

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

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 fall of 2018? 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.

As in 2018, the GEN Summit 2019 is set to be in Lisbon, 19–21 June

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, Video, and Visual Journalism.

  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. Video is the second priority for next year. 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 and you’ll immediately understand that we’re in a new era for video journalism. And it is only just beginning.
  3. Why are we talking about visual journalism as the third challenge? The word seems a bit outdated or overused, but 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. The human brain is ready to welcome these new ways to tell stories, but we’re still waiting for a new generation of storytellers. 2019 will be also the year of the first experiments for monetising visual journalism (and this has never happened before).

Our industry is of course facing other issues, including two more V challenges: Verification and value of news. Journalists will continue to have to fight misinformation, propaganda, and rumours. Rather than just producing news, they will have to manage and control what happens on social media and closed messaging apps. In terms of value, new membership and subscription models are based on the idea that users are ready to pay for exclusive or personalised information and that micropayment systems can allow newsrooms to reach a very fragmented audience. While these issues are already well framed, we will continue to discuss them and strive to find new solutions at this year’s GEN Summit.

Photos from the GEN Summit 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal

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 (19 to 21 June 2019). 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 first keynote speakers:

  • John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg
  • Norman Pearlstine, Executive Editor, Los Angeles Times
  • Amy Webb, Futurist & Founder of the Future Today Institute

(A fourth keynote will be announced very soon)

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

  • Cory Haik, 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 November, 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, Video and Visual Journalism. 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

See you at the GEN Summit from 19 to 21 June 2019 and take advantage of our super-early bird offering here!

Bertrand Pecquerie, GEN CEO