The Future of News | Deloitte Netherlands

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The Future of News

Four scenarios for the future of news in 2030

Can we be sure the news we consume is true? Or is it fake? Or is it a matter of opinion? As technological advances make it easier and cheaper to create and disseminate text, image, audio and video, many of us are concerned about the impact of misinformation, disinformation and false news coverage on our fellow citizens, our political system, and the credibility and viability of traditional news outlets.

The Future of News project

Coordinated by the not-for-profit Deloitte Impact Foundation that harnesses Deloitte’s capabilities for the benefit of society, The Future of News project is exploring the potential news landscape in 2030. The project team engaged over 30 news and media experts (ranging from tech startups, to research institutions, to broadcasters, to not-for-profits in journalism and European Commission expert groups) to identify, define and assess the forces shaping the future of news and four potential scenarios for 2030.

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Defining the future of news scenarios

The first phase of our study drew on over 30 interviews with international news and media experts and an AI-enabled review of 8 million articles to spot trends in the news and media landscape. We identified 96 social, technological, economic, environmental and political factors and driving forces that will likely shape the future of news in 2030.. In a series of scenario workshops, the team of news, technology and media experts narrowed down the driving forces into two dimensions, being: (1) the role of the tech sector in the news landscape and thus the number of diverse news sources and (2) the level of trust between news consumers (citizens) and news providers (journalists), resulting in the four plausible, yet extreme scenarios below:

1. The News Utopia (high trust/diverse news sources, less dominated by tech): the news landscape is a vibrantly diverse ecosystem, characterized by pluriformity and healthy competition between traditional news outlets and the tech sector. The level of market consolidation is low. Most news consumers have easy access to a very broad range of news sources and technology provides a means to check their origin, fact base, level of interpretation and inherent biases. Yet, there is still a risk that some news consumers retreat into trusted filter bubbles in which they only consume news from a limited number of sources.

2. Benevolent Big Tech (high trust/few news sources, dominated by tech): many news outlets are absorbed by tech platforms that seek an equilibrium between broad news access and capitalizing on news consumers’ willingness to pay. As many investors value relevance, the tech platforms invest more in impactful journalism. Meanwhile, some investors also fund “tech for good” start-ups developing technologies that look to ensure the trustworthiness of news. Yet, these technologies can also be subverted for manipulative reasons and such subversion may be hard for news consumers to detect.

3. Ignorance is Bliss (low trust / few news sources, dominated by tech): many news outlets and staff are acquired by big tech platforms, increasing the level of market consolidation and leaving control in the hands of a few. With news generally distributed via ‘free’ platforms, business models become more advertiser-focused and cost-conscious. As they seek high returns on their investments, big tech platforms may compromise on the depth and breadth of journalism. At the same time, competition between the tech platforms may partially mitigate these factors, while some news consumers will seek alternative sources or advance their digital literacy skills to circumvent filter technologies.

4. Multidimensional tribes (low trust / diverse news sources, less dominated by tech): although a diverse news landscape encompasses all forms of content and perspectives, consumers tend to focus on familiar perspectives and sources. This encourages precise targeting and content filtered to their interests. These filter bubbles may result in just a small number of “trusted” sources providing each tribe or audience with what they want. Only a few news consumers have the drive or the means to travel between tribes, seeking diverse perspectives and confronting themselves with perspectives not completely aligned with their own.

Do these scenarios seem possible to you? Are you worried some or any of them might happen? Or do you have a different perspective and would you like to contribute? Do you have ideas on how to influence the future of news in 2030 and embed this within our society?

If any of the above applies or if you just want to keep in touch and are interested in the outcomes of the report, please get in touch with us or sign up below.

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