Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Predictions for the future

By Cristin Nelson

I thought about titling this post “Magic 8 Ball” because that’s about the quality of response I’ll be able to give regarding a prediction for the future of technology in journalism (“reply hazy, try again”).

There are just so many variables involved—interests, attention spans, access, technological capability, effective synergy of multimedia, and so many more.  I also caution against thinking about what happens next in the U.S. as “the future of journalism,” given that there are huge markets evolving in a different way from markets in the U.S. (such as the large populations in India who, as we discussed yesterday, exclusively use the internet on smartphones).  Variables and priorities differ from country to country, increasing the complexity of this topic.

One thing I do believe we will see in the future is more distinct market segmentation regarding news delivery.  While I agree that the general trend is leaning towards headlines and soundbites, there will always be a place for longer, more in-depth journalism.  Technology will need to exist to satisfy both segments (perhaps the Apple watch or Google Glass for headlines, for example, but tablets/desktops will never go away, because we need them for the longer stuff).  Market segmentation is already diverse but it may become more so, as populations evolve and begin to use technologies in ways that were perhaps unexpected at the outset (#blacktwitter, for example).

I am also convinced that, as compelling as video can be, it will never fully replace the written word.  When I browse the news during a break at work, I am annoyed when confronted with an article featuring a video only, without a written summary.  I can’t always watch videos, so I can’t access that content.  Perhaps other people don’t have the bandwidth or the time for videos, which are often not as concise as a written article; we may not want to spend two minutes getting to the important part of a video, when we could scan a written piece in 30 seconds.  This also speaks to market segmentation—one segment may prefer videos, while another prefers the written word.

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