Futures of Journalism. Technology-stimulated Evolution in the Audience-News Media Relationship [new book]

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Understanding the audience-news media relationship has always been important to us in the industry. However, changes in the global media sphere make that relationship, and by extension this book, particularly timely. We are competing for the audience’s most precious asset—their time. That means that newsrooms may in the near future be competing with the likes of “Fortnite”, a digital game. Netflix is already stating that its competition comes more from Fortnite than HBO or Disney+. Presumably that influences how Netflix will be developed in the coming years. What Netflix does affects media houses globally, because media houses have their own video-on-demand (VOD) services. Other VOD players usually go in the same direction as Netflix. So what Fortnite does influences online journalism.

Absurd, isn’t it? Te reason for that is that every company in the world shares a common platform: the mobile device. Tat’s why journalism is competing with time spent on, not just with other journalism organizations, but, for example, with Red Bull sports videos. Tis puts a strain on news media’s bottom lines, forcing them to seek supplements and alternatives to their business models. Add political polarization to all this and you have got yourself a messiness that makes it really, really, interesting, and fascinating, to work in news media at this time of technological development. Tat development is refected on all facets of journalism.

Tanks to social media, we hear voices that were not heard just 15 years ago. We are witnessing an era in which many people are keen to make the world a better place. Te defnition of “better” varies in the sense that
there is much dialogue in the public sphere about polarization and cultural wars in many of our societies across the world. Te audience is no longer simply an audience. Especially among the younger generations, there’s a will to collaborate and interact. Tat’s what the advent of the internet taught us to do. Audience interaction features prominently in this volume, giving diverse consideration to how audiences can and should be co-opted in the journalistic process. It is, arguably, one of the biggest questions for the future of journalism.

Interaction does not only refer to commenting on social media posts. It is becoming an activity through which the work processes of news journalists are changing, thoroughly. So much so that our basic news stories are not simply for the people but also made with the people. The marriage between media and the audience is evolving quickly. Naturally, the work of news media professionals must change, too. I feel that, in the end, trusted news brands will prevail. Tey might face small but growing pressure to publish audience views that match with the views of their subscribers. Public news outlets on the other hand could be blamed to be both too liberal and too conservative simultaneously. New technologies present new ways of learning about audiences and their preferences and ofer new tools for establishing trust. Making the best use of these tools is important, but doing so in an ethically sustainable way is even more so.

Journalism is evolving rapidly, but there are also claims that it is not, insofar that its mindset is too much tied to traditional work processes and its traditional role as a gatekeeper. If news media is the watchdog that is supposed to hold those in power accountable, how will it be done in the future? As a networked and social media–driven world, are new forms of power structures developing? New movements are born and nurtured on social media platforms and via its thousands of groups. If this is to be a new power structure, how should the classic watchdog, journalism, keep an eye on it? Tere will be a challenging but interesting decade ahead for news journalism.

This book should open readers’ eyes to the various changes in the world of news media likely to be witnessed in coming years. Source: Jukka Niva in the Foreword chapter of the book


Ville J. E. Manninen is a Researcher at the University of Vaasa’s InnoLab research platform in Finland. He has worked as a researcher and a lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, focusing on journalistic work practices and media plurality. Ville is a journalism studies graduate and has worked in several newspapers.

Mari K. Niemi is the Research Director of E2 Research, an independent research institute based in Helsinki, Finland. She served as the founding Director of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship InnoLab, a research platform at the University of Vaasa. Mari was awarded Academic of the Year in 2015 for her active participation in science communication and public discussion.

Anthony Ridge-Newman is an Associate Professor in Media and Communication at Liverpool Hope University, UK. His research and teaching have been previously based at Glasgow, London, Roehampton and Oxford universities. Anthony has published three books on political communication, and he has diverse scholarly and practice expertise and experience across media, communication and politics.


  1. Front Matter Pages i-xxxi PDF 
  2. Introduction
    • Ville J. E. Manninen, Mari K. Niemi, Anthony Ridge-NewmanPages 1-15
  3. Transformations in the Business of Journalism
  4. Ethical Implications of New Technologies
  5. Adapting Journalistic Practices to New Conditions

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