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Predicting the Future of Journalism

#1 One day, all printed media will be digitalized

Nick Bogaty, executive director of the International Digital Publisher Forum, had said that in order for ebooks to thrive, they must meet the following four conditions: 1. a device that makes reading pleasurable, 2. Content at the right price, 3. Great selection of content, 4. User-friendly. Thanks to more and more great ebook readers, including Kindle, Sony Digital Book and Ipad, flooding into the market,  they are definitely getting closer to these goals.

In fact, Amazon.com has announced that its ebook sales surpass its hardcopy sales in 2010. The cofounder of Journalism Online, Steven Brill predicts that in 2011 printed media like magazines can become digitalized, and sell in a form of mini-ebook.  It is not hard to understand the foreseeable success of ebooks: one can access a huge library of information in a light and small product, and don’t have to risk marking the pages. Maybe in 20-30 years, I believe, all the printed media will be replaced by its more efficient, digitalized version.

#2 We are paying for quality contents, again

In the midst of media convergence, one-time media giants like UBS Universe and The New York Times must rethink their strategies in monetizing their web-based forms. Or else, they would end up filing bankruptcies like Tribune Co., the owner of LA. Times. In fact, The New York Times is ready to launch its paywall, where they can stop relying on selling page views and ad revenue, and simply charge people for online access to its articles.

Interesting enough, that’s the way the media deliver information before Internet, where people pay for their hard copies of news. Nowadays, we are so spoiled by the Internet that paying for news seem to be a innovation. A survey from BusinessInsider shows that up to 78% people are unwilling to pay for the $9.99 for 1 month of unlimited internet access for NYTimes.

The trend of paying for internet content does not end with news.  Last year, Hulu.com had decided to charge people for a greater range of videos. However, a survey by lifehacker.com reveals that most people would rather go back to BitTorrent to download TV series than to pay for it.  And Steven Brill ever predicts that in 2011, people will commission and sell magazine articles from top writers.

But we might as well get use to paying for quality materials, again. I believe when organizations become more skilled in monetizing the webs again, everything will back to the way it used to be.

#3 Future of Journalism relies on Social Media

We have all experienced first-hand how how social and mobile have  redefined our news reading/watching experience. Twitter and Facebook become platforms for newsgathering where there are unfiltered eyewitness accounts in real-time. For example, when Haiti was devastated by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake, many locals used twitters to show their situation to the world. Many news organizations have also been using these social platforms for distribution and engagement. The CNN Breaking News twitter, for instance, give us a glimpse of the latest news, and encourage viewers to comment, facilitate the interaction between the news crews and viewers.

The social media has become so influential that we cannot underestimate the power of social referral, where people click into a link their friends have posted. I absolutely agree with the prediction of Ken Doctor, an analyst of Newsonomics, that social media–dominated by Facebook and Twitter–will become the fastest growing source of news traffic. And it is highly possible that news publishers can “count 5-15 percent of their traffic” from them, making search/Google referrals less important.” Facebook obviously understand this power, and created a new feature “Sponsored Stories” that will turn your profile into a commercial ad.

There is no doubt that the social platforms will play a big part in the future of journalism.

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