The Future Of News Is Going To Be Awesome

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The idea of the future of news is often met with fear and uncertainty. But that’s nonsense. The future of news is going to be awesome!

Perhaps the trepidation is because the people who deliver today’s news — journalists and publishers — are the ones who could be the most displaced by the change. Most of today’s news organisations — newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television networks, etc. — will look drastically different in a decade or so. Many will disappear, and only the resourceful will thrive.

But for the consumer and for society, that is a necessary step toward improvement. As technology continues to evolve, and as new business models emerge, information gathering and distribution will become better than ever.

Some highlights and implications:

People will have more sources of information and “news” than ever before. Sure, it may not all be from “professional journalists” with grad school degrees, but that isn’t a bad thing. Some of it will even come from machines! Yes, news sources will need to build trust as they always have. But that doesn’t mean they have to be able to afford a printing press or a bunch of broadcast spectrum to be relevant.

Information will travel even faster and be more portable. Devices like the iPad, platforms like Twitter, and news reader apps like Flipboard are just the beginning. Remember when you had to get a newspaper or tune into a TV channel at a certain time to figure out what was happening around you? It will increasingly become woven into everyday life.

Software is the future of media. Great news companies must learn to become great software and design companies, or partner with them — or they will become average news companies. Related: Hardware design and distribution is totally separate, and is not something most media companies will ever be good at. They probably shouldn’t try.

You are your own editor. Not all the time. But sometimes. More and more news products will ask you to play a role in choosing what you want to learn about. Embrace this, but also ask for a professional editor when that’s better. (You can figure out which you prefer for what types of information.)

It’s good to be a curator. Along those same lines: With more news sources than ever, someone needs to make sense of it all. Editing and curating are more important than ever. That used to be the company that bundled and packaged into a wad of paper or a 30-minute newscast. Online, it can range from Google’s news algorithm to small startups like Techmeme to one-man curation shops like Daring Fireball.

Advertising will improve… and that will change the whole game. Right now, print advertisers know zero about what’s going on with their ads. Online advertisers don’t know that much more. This should eventually work itself out so that ads are more relevant to their recipients and perform better for advertisers. There will be automation and optimization. But that will also rearrange the wealth in the media industry. The winners will be those who can attract the biggest audiences and the most elite, focused audiences.

News and commerce must further blend. This makes classically trained journalists squirm. But it’s very logical! People want to buy stuff. Two-thirds of people polled in an AdAge study said they subscribed to their local paper, among other reasons, for the coupons. Give the people what they want!

At least, that’s one idea of what’s coming. For more, we asked more than a dozen media industry experts, from Glenn Beck to Arianna Huffington to Mark Cuban. Click here to see what they had to say →