The problem with making predictions is that a year is too short a timescale; and five is too long. The secret, I’ve realized, is to actually talk about things you already know are going to happen, and then accept all the glory when they actually do.
Having broken the Magicians’ Circle of journalistic punditry, then, here are the developments I see shaping 2012.
Liveblogging has been taken up by the news industry more enthusiastically than perhaps any other web-native form of journalism. It’s sticky, great for SEO, and provides a simple way to turn a newsroom used to daily news cycles into a rolling news operation.
Indeed, its influence has been so great that some news organizations are seriously considering the very way they present their news — and in 2012 I think that influence will generate significant changes in how certain media organizations make that presentation.
The “stream” as an interface will move from being the preserve of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to being a serious consideration for news website homepages. We’re all 24-hour news channels now.
If you’re not already tired of conference speakers staging their own coronations where some aspect of journalism is crowned “king” — from content to curation and context to conversation — expect there to be another one in 2012.
I’m betting on “collaboration”: partly with users who have valuable expertise to share; but also between media organizations, strapped for cash and looking for new economies and new opportunities.
In 2009 and 2010, the MPs’ expenses and Wikileaks stories helped news organizations see the potential of data journalism. In 2011, they spent plenty of time talking about it. In 2012, more of them will be ready to start doing it.
At the BBC, the College of Journalism has embarked upon a significant training program to build data journalism literacy among the corporation’s journalists, with other broadcasters making plans in the same area. The Guardian and The FT continue to set the pace for the UK newspaper industry, and the magazine industry is starting to look at the possibilities of data, too.
This slow skilling up of journalists can expect to get a fresh injection of pace with further open data developments in 2012, from the UK government’s attempt to stimulate the economy with further data releases, to the “carrot and stick” of pushing releases of data at an EU level. Any news organization that is serious about its fourth estate role is building the skills to interrogate those datasets.