My news, my way is the future of journalism
Did you see that new article about how AI is the heart of the innovation economy? Oh, you didn’t? But it was among the first pieces of news in the LinkedIn feed… Oh, that’s right, that article was part of my bubble. My filter bubble, that is. And I confess it’s awfully techy.
Today we are publishing our latest report from Ericsson’s Networked Society Lab on the future of journalism, in which we explore potential new business models for journalism in the digital era. And many of the predictions we make are about personalization.
Tailored news anytime, anywhere
Already today, the media landscape is being tailored to fit our personal preferences. You can cherry-pick your news and get it delivered in your preferred format, wherever and whenever you want. And you can get daily, if not hourly, updates. New consumer demands together with opportunities brought about by technology are changing the way we consume news. And tailor-made news will evolve even further. Articles will be adapted in terms of length and the level of detail they contain, depending on the context or your situation. And will enable media companies to cover and report on even the smallest, local event of your interest by enabling AI software. This is fantastic since it will open up new possibilities to stay up to date and informed.
Getting stuck in a filter bubble
But being the person of reason I know you are, you were just about to raise your concerns, right? By tailoring our news to our every preference, won’t there be a risk of us consuming news on only specific topics or with very narrow angles? And by filtering out what we see as non-relevant, isn’t there a risk of us separating ourselves from viewpoints that conflict with our own? And of us getting stuck in filter bubbles or only reading articles appearing in our echo chambers? You are of course right, and this debate is ongoing.
A filter bubble is formed by technology, and is not necessarily a bad thing. It refers to the algorithms that personalize your online experience – the algorithm that lets you find what you search for on Google quickly, for instance. Or the algorithms that make a landing page or feed feel relevant to you. We all have them. Problems arise if they become too narrow so that you miss out on relevant information or even gain an inaccurate understanding of the topic at hand. But just as we have used technology to filter things for us, I firmly believe that we can create tools to give us context and guide us to a more nuanced picture. To break out of the bubble.
Social silos among top trends
It is a lot trickier with echo chambers. Just think about it. It is fairly natural for us to want to share our thoughts where they might be appreciated rather than challenged. And you will probably trust in a post or article that comes recommended by someone you know and believe in. We are drawn to like-minded people. Social silos are among our latest 10 hot consumer trends for 2017 from Ericsson ConsumerLab. We point out that many advanced internet users trust their contacts as more reliable sources of information than the TV, radio and newspapers. And believe that their contacts’ opinions are more important than what politicians say. Many actively defriend or reject friendship requests on a weekly basis due to the other people’s beliefs. People who are comfortable in their silo or echo chamber will want to stay there.
And perhaps there is no breaking out of echo chambers. We will always air and confirm our thoughts with like-minded people. But it is a problem if we tend to stay there, become isolated and not get a diversified view of the world. And here I do believe the future of journalism will play an important role. To interest, educate and inspire people to learn more. And to balance the tailoring of news with offering the broad perspective and relevant facts. Because the problem does not lie in consuming what you like; the problem arises when too much content is about just one thing or becomes too one-sided. Even if it is about technology.
If you want to read more about what we predict for the future of journalism, please take a look at the report and let us know what you think!