Five trends in the reinvention of news

The Cato Institute’s Cato Unbound website this month features essays on the future of journalism.

Clay Shirky kicked things off on Monday reiterating a theme on which he blogged a few months ago – that this is a time of upheaval for traditional news media, with no single clear path to future sustainability.

Today, another journalism professor, Philip Meyer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, responds with five trends he sees emerging from the current chaos. It’s worth reading his full article but, to summarize, the five trends are:

  1. The marketplace is calling for ever more specialized information. This trend was well established in the second half of the 20th century, and the Internet greatly accelerated it.
  2. The need for processing is increasing at two levels: in the production stage where analysis and interpretation help readers or listeners make sense of the oversupply of data, and in the transmission stage where information is packaged for ready retrieval by the specialized subsets of the audiences that want it.
  3. We are starting to place more value on evidence-based versus source-based journalism.
  4. Dividing journalism into subcategories of specialists has already started a fourth trend: increasing the number of certification programs for journalists.
  5. The leverage for motivations other than profit is growing rather than shrinking. The low entry costs of the Internet guarantee that.

The series is scheduled to continue with contributions from Paul Starr on July 17 and Steve Yelvington on July 20.