The Dig South fest is now in full swing, and I just got out of a really great session hosted by CNN VP/managing editor Meredith Artley in which she talked about the future of journalism. If you're a journo or a journo-hag, read on. Here's a rundown.
1. The future of online journalism will feature an increased mix of heavy news and lighter fare, the serious and the silly. For an example, Artley notes that in the past it would have been a no-no to run a story about Lindsay Lohan beside a story on the death of Margaret Thatcher, but today and into the future ... well, not so much. Artley also acknowledged that a big news organization like CNN doesn't break news in the way that it used. Although Artly didn't say it, news stories are broken by social media like Twitter and the like.
2. The future is co-created. That means more user-submitted material, and more stories based on what users want. It will also mean that comments and YouTube videos will become more and more important.
3. The future is more personal. Artley believes that news sites will increasingly curate the material on their sites according to the preferences of each individual visitor. Think of it as the Amazon "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" of news sites.
4. The future is more diverse. Artley noted that while that means what we typically think of as diversity — multiple ethnic groups, races, and sexual orientations — but it also means that geo-location (where you live) will mean less and less. More importantly, Artley mentioned that more and more "digital natives" — children who have grown up in an all-digital world — are increasing in number and their habits when it comes to how they digest media, both traditional and social, are here to stay.
5. The future is mobile. I wish I had tweeted this line on my iPhone. I didn't, but I could have.
6. The future is more face to face. Despite all of our tech advances — Facetime, Skype, texting — the more important conversations, work meetings, etc. will be conducted face to face. Why? Personal connections, close contact, matters.
7. The future will have less outrage. I disagree with Artley on this one. Trolls are here to stay. It's a sport. But I do agree with her that comment boards are often self-policed environments where the forces of decency can run the show ... that is if they speak up. Unless you're on Fark. Then you're fucked.
8. The future is more visual. Artley believes that not only is online video here to stay, but it's only going to increase. More importantly, news organizations will increasingly turn to video — particularly animation — to present factoid and data heavy info in more visually appealing and informative ways.
9. And last, the future will be more data filled. The public is going to increasingly demand that news organizations delve into stats and figures and make it all clear to their readers in interesting ways. See No. 7.
In the end, Artley notes that a good story is still a good story and that a good story is what people want. Sometimes they want the important, heavy-hitting news. Sometimes, they want the silly video of the squirrel on waterskis. And more and more, they want it all together in one place. And in the case of Huffington Post — but not CNN, mind you — that means sideboob and nipple slip mini-sites.
Ugh. I mean, I love me some smut, but I don't want my XXX fix mixed with my news. But that's just me. Regardless, I say bring on the future, one wardrobe malfunction at a time.