Media Industry Vows to “Know Its Role” in 2017

Portions of this post originally appeared on Parse.ly’s blog.

What will 2017 bring for journalists? As part of a recent survey of more than 100 digital media professionals, Parse.ly found that this question is top-of-mind for digital media professionals, who believe that the role of journalism in society will be the digital media industry’s primary focus in the coming year.

Already, journalists are beginning to ask some important questions about the ways in which they approach reporting: How should we cover terrorism? How should we cover crime? How should we cover sexual assault? How should we cover a Donald Trump presidency?

Their changing role is not the only thing that weighs heavy on journalists as we approach 2017. Take a look at the full results of Parse.ly’s two-question survey, below.

Platforms, Video, and Ad Blockers: Not a Priority for Newsrooms in 2017

Beyond a preoccupation with journalism’s role in society, media companies are still concerned about monetization in 2017, according to 24 percent of respondents. However, surprisingly low on the online media industry’s list of priorities — especially compared to 2016 — are cultivating relationships with platforms (nine percent), video (six percent), and ad issues (two percent).

This is particularly interesting to us because all of these topics made news for the potentially negative impact they could have on the digital publishing industry in 2016:

  • Publishers realized they had no clear way to measure content on distributed platforms, and began to seriously consider the benefits of third-party content distribution.
  • Many online media companies wrestled with finding the best ways to incorporate video into their content strategy last year. In fact, around 75 percent of respondents to a Reuters Institute survey said they only occasionally (or never) use video news online.
  • Ad blocking became an expensive liability. According to a report by Juniper Research, ad blocking software could cost digital publishers more than $27 billion by 2020.

Media Consultant Jason Alcorn interprets the survey results: “This is the year digital subscription revenue becomes the key metric for credible journalism. I strongly believe that. As readers, we get the news we pay for. A huge number more people understand that now. They want better news, and they’ve shown a willingness to pay for it.”

“Publishers who regularly produce credible, original journalism and communicate its value to readers will be rewarded.”

“Everything else,” said Alcorn, “like platforms, video, and ad tech, will take a back seat. It will still be there, we’ll still be talking about it, it’ll be part of the strategy, but it won’t be, can’t be publishers’ top priority.”

Maybe online media companies feel they made some headway in dealing with these issues in 2016, or maybe they know that 2017 will bring with it some bigger fish to fry. What do you think? Are these results in line with your organization’s challenges in 2016 and focus for the year ahead?