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Jan. 13, 2016, 11:27 a.m.
Business Models

Predicting the year ahead in journalism has become a Nieman Lab tradition. Each year, we ask some of the smartest people in the business to share what they think the year ahead will look like for news.

We’re not the only ones looking at how journalism will fare in 2016, though. This week, Nic Newman, a research associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, released a new report: “Media, Journalism and Technology Predictions 2016.”

Newman’s report touches on many of the questions that are at the forefront of people’s minds these days: How will the surge in distributed content continue to affect publishers? What’s the next battle in the war against adblockers? How will news organizations deal with the relentless explosion in mobile messaging apps? Will VR or other new technologies change the way journalism is presented?

Beyond these questions, Newman surveyed 130 editors, executives, and other digital leaders from more than 25 countries to understand how they are approaching 2016.

For example, 79 percent of respondents said their companies plan to invest more in online video this year.

ReutersSurvey1

The report highlights efforts such as BuzzFeed’s Los Angeles-based video production group, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, and the BBC’s focus on developing Newstream, a new mobile video initiative.

Still, executives acknowledged the challenges that news organizations — especially traditional print outlets — face while dealing with video.

“Video is a difficult area for former print groups,” one respondent told Newman. “None of us is doing it well, we do not have in-house expertise (generally) and it is vastly expensive. We will proceed with caution in this area.”

Similarly, more than half of the survey respondents said that “deepening online engagement” is their top strategic priority for 2016, and certainly, better video is one way publishers are trying to get users to engage with them.

ReutersSurvey2

“We saw record of numbers of readers coming to us in 2015. In 2016, our biggest opportunity is to turn that interest into a more deeply engaged audience,” said Julia Beizer, The Washington Post’s director of product.

Another way newsrooms plan to boost engagement is through better use of data. More than three-quarters of of respondents said it is very important for them to improve their use of data in the newsroom in 2016:

Around two thirds of publishers who responded to our survey (65%) had deployed Chartbeat in their newsrooms to provide real time feedback. 15% were using NewsWhip, a specialist tool for understanding how content is performing in social media, and almost half (45%) had also built their own home-grown systems to help understand how content was being used.

Audience engagement becomes ever more important as news organizations try to reach audiences on multiple platforms while also dealing with business model changes such as the increased uptake of adblockers.

“[This] will be the year that we begin to understand what success really looks like,” said Renée Kaplan, The Financial Times’ head of audience engagement, “and realize that it takes as many different forms as there are different audiences on different platforms.”

The full Reuters report is available here.

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