The recent development in news media seem to trigger self-doubt and a lot of soul searching amongst the News media community. We have observed trends that are becoming stronger and are undermining the relevance and existence of News media. How can News stay relevant and be still the main source for their audience? What is the role of News in wake of populist leaders, fake news, information overflow? How can news organization adapt to the changing usage patterns and viewing habits of audiences? Will News survive as a Fourth Estate in modern, western democracies and will it become such a force in developing democracies? The questions and challenges go on and on.
News media must rethink its business model
News media must rethink its business model and how it interacts with audiences. Otherwise they indeed run the risk to become obsolete in a very short time. When everyone now has the technology and broadcast outlet to be its own news channel, it is a matter of survival for news media to attract more users and to remain a favorite resource for their consumers.
A key element in addressing the changing environment is that News organization must stop to consider their audience as traditional, passive recipients of broadcast messages. They must define them as users and consumers. More though, they must work on making the user a connected community. Connected audiences and users stay more loyal and eventually are also your best sales team. You must give them a sense of community and enable them to act within the community. The distance between sender and recipient must be broken down.
News media must define itself as a service platform
News media must define itself as a service platform that wants to help to improve the life of its users. Even more than that: it must be a service that enables the users to help each other. This means that the users must be able to connect to each other as well and that they can form their own programs. For instance, some developments that we see along the idea of crowd-funding of news reports and stories are working along such ideas. But you can also, for example, create local news rooms with your local audiences so that they can create their own local news channel and reporting. The news platform must go beyond news in the traditional sense but must provide mechanism that allows its connected users to create help for each other in whatever fashion this user group deems relevant and useful for them.
The current disruption in the News industry is a good development. It offers a chance for media to try new business models and approach to the market. It will make News stronger when they are willing and able to reinvent themselves. News media must go beyond the daily run for sensationalism and must look at the higher collective good. This is hard: because it means setting one’s immediate self-interest aside. In the long run, it will, however, be a matter of survival and will pay off.