Five Takeaways From Reuters’ 2017 Trends Report

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Fact-checking, personalised content, cyber-wars and virtual reality will shape the media world in 2017. These are some of the key predictions from the Journalism, Media and Technology Trends and Predictions 2017 report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

2016 marked the year in which the media itself became news. Post-truth, the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, reflects a world where “objective facts have become less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion.” It also heralded the staggering decline in trust in traditional media.

Here are five takeaways from the Reuters’ report, based on a survey of 143 digital leaders from 24 countries:

1) Fact-checking goes centre stage

There’s a danger of over-playing the extent of fake news, but the 2016 US presidential election ignited the discussion about the huge implications of fake news and misinformation. In future, fact-checking services will be significantly upgraded and invested in by media and technology giants to increase credibility. Expect to see resources pumped into focusing on better verification and algorithm changes to deal with fake news. Meanwhile, increased regulation and the threat of ‘take down’ by special units, such as a Czech ‘anti-fake news’ unit, will emerge. These developments offer opportunities for existing media brands to strengthen their position as credible sources of news and information. 70% of those surveyed said concerns over the dissemination of fake and inaccurate news across social media would strengthen their position.

Total Facebook Engagements* for Top 20 Election Stores (BuzzFeed News

It may be wishful thinking, but there’s no doubt all eyes will be on both publishers and platforms to see how they respond to the crisis of credibility. Around one in ten (12%) people now consider social media to be their main source of news and nearly half of journalists (48%) say they wouldn’t be able to conduct their work without social media. The need for greater accuracy and objectivity is more relevant than ever.

2) Invest in data – deliver more personalised content

Media companies will be hoping to compete with Facebook and create more relevant and personal experiences in a move towards ‘conversational journalism.’ They are likely to invest more in data, mobile alerts and sign-in services, while over half believe Facebook Messenger (56%) will become more important.

3) More politicians follow Trump’s use of social media

Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House today (20 January) and European elections in France and Germany will highlight the increasing power of new communication channels. Politicians are likely to follow Trump’s lead and use platforms, notably Twitter, to define issues and announce policies as a substitute for traditional media.

4) Increased VR and Augmented Reality in the media

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, mixed reality and 360-video are all in their infancy, but forecasters suggest the commitment of Facebook, Samsung and Google will be critical in popularising VR experiences, with 30 million devices predicted to be sold by 2020. The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Sky News are among the media outlets already experimenting with combining journalism and VR to create a powerful empathy with their audience. The big platforms are likely to offer greater financial incentives to create more VR journalism experiences in 2017, says the report.

5) Cyber-wars between governments and citizens over limits personal surveillance

Campaigners are concerned that government agencies could collect information from social media and other public sources, making us more open to cyber-attacks, information wars and abuse of personal information. These concerns have fuelled the increase in encrypted messaging apps, something that will also be of great interest to journalists working in hostile environments.


About Ed Sawyer

Communication Assistant at Clear Europe and Journalism student at Southampton Solent University. Twitter: @ESJourn

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