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A third age of news

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27th October 2017

The news industry has been through dramatic change. And even as the shift from traditional print to shiny new online news continues, there are signs that another way forward is beginning to emerge.

Most people understand the evolution of the news industry, from the newspaper to – after a few hundred years – broadcast media. On newspapers, teams of professional journalists created high-quality content for one-way distribution to a mass audience. Quality ensured income and the income came from selling newspapers and advertising space.

And then along came the wonderful worldwide web. And everything changed. Journalists were no longer necessarily professional. The flow of information was no longer one way. We could all be citizen journalists.

People were given a voice of their own and suddenly they had the ability to discuss and question the news they were reading. But it blew a hole in the business model that had hitherto made high-quality news content a viable product.

Now it seems things are taking another turn.

Consumers are beginning to recognise the limitations of what the web has done to the news industry and are starting to appreciate some of the benefits of the original, traditional, print model. They are willing to pay for high-quality content and appreciate the skill of the editor in crafting an enjoyable news experience. Now, it seems, the value of news brands – once written off as dinosaurs in the web age – is again on the up as readers seek truth and trust. Fake news has underlined the importance of a responsible press.

Still, however, the widely accepted view is that print is dead and that the market will soon evaporate. But while people absorb more and more web content, many also appreciate the form and feel of a paper product. And where news brands link their newspapers to their online offering in an intelligent way, there is a happy accommodation that rewards the reader and, importantly, the business.

This must be good news for advertisers who can now look again at how to leverage the mass, quality audience that only print papers can provide.

The future looks bright.