“Niche platforms become valuable as they provide deeper insights on focus areas that larger but broader news organizations are more likely to miss.”

In 2021, niche news media will be the go-to platforms for news. The future resilience of the world’s media lies in focusing on niche audiences and verticals. Its success lies in organizations that speak to very specific interests and the need for credible content.

As we pull ourselves out of the unexpected Covid-19 storm that catalyzed the demise of many news organizations, perhaps it’s time for news media to look for alternative revenue streams. News organizations that focus on a niche will be more successful. Because of this, legacy and traditional news organizations will look to dismantle and give up their oligopoly to focus on their strengths — the beats that their reporters are strong in as well as the news which their audiences most prefer.

But for news media to succeed running a niche newsroom, they’ll need to know and understand every single thing about their audiences. Ample audience insights will lead to loads of revenue opportunities that many traditional media are missing. And in order to own a niche, newsrooms will need to be excellent on a daily basis in order to remain valuable and in the minds of audiences. A key advantage of niche news media is that their narrow focus can allow reporters to become subject-matter experts. Niche platforms become valuable as they provide more deeper insights on focus areas that larger but broader news organizations are more likely to miss.

There are a number of great examples of niche brands that are increasingly showing success. South Africa’s digital-first Daily Maverick is one; so are investigative news organization amaBhungane and a two-year-old agricultural and lifestyle news publication, Food For Mzansi.

For traditional news organizations, the goal would be to make room for experimentation and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Large mainstream newsrooms will need to find ways of connecting with audiences on a deeper level. Traditional news organizations will need to be open to trying out new things in order to better serve their audiences. It is important to remember that on the surface, it sounds easy, but it takes hard work to achieve any kind of scale or sustainability when going niche.

What will be changing in 2021, will not just be about how we find alternative revenue models for the survival of news organizations, but also the way we do journalism. There are plenty of opportunities in the niches if you’re agile and excellent. With enough flexibility and resources, the longevity of many traditional news media organizations and the rise of innovative media start-ups can both be secured. Go niche, go deep, and serve a community.

Tshepo Tshabalala is the director of the Journalism and Media Lab at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

In 2021, niche news media will be the go-to platforms for news. The future resilience of the world’s media lies in focusing on niche audiences and verticals. Its success lies in organizations that speak to very specific interests and the need for credible content.

As we pull ourselves out of the unexpected Covid-19 storm that catalyzed the demise of many news organizations, perhaps it’s time for news media to look for alternative revenue streams. News organizations that focus on a niche will be more successful. Because of this, legacy and traditional news organizations will look to dismantle and give up their oligopoly to focus on their strengths — the beats that their reporters are strong in as well as the news which their audiences most prefer.

But for news media to succeed running a niche newsroom, they’ll need to know and understand every single thing about their audiences. Ample audience insights will lead to loads of revenue opportunities that many traditional media are missing. And in order to own a niche, newsrooms will need to be excellent on a daily basis in order to remain valuable and in the minds of audiences. A key advantage of niche news media is that their narrow focus can allow reporters to become subject-matter experts. Niche platforms become valuable as they provide more deeper insights on focus areas that larger but broader news organizations are more likely to miss.

There are a number of great examples of niche brands that are increasingly showing success. South Africa’s digital-first Daily Maverick is one; so are investigative news organization amaBhungane and a two-year-old agricultural and lifestyle news publication, Food For Mzansi.

For traditional news organizations, the goal would be to make room for experimentation and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Large mainstream newsrooms will need to find ways of connecting with audiences on a deeper level. Traditional news organizations will need to be open to trying out new things in order to better serve their audiences. It is important to remember that on the surface, it sounds easy, but it takes hard work to achieve any kind of scale or sustainability when going niche.

What will be changing in 2021, will not just be about how we find alternative revenue models for the survival of news organizations, but also the way we do journalism. There are plenty of opportunities in the niches if you’re agile and excellent. With enough flexibility and resources, the longevity of many traditional news media organizations and the rise of innovative media start-ups can both be secured. Go niche, go deep, and serve a community.

Tshepo Tshabalala is the director of the Journalism and Media Lab at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

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