5 journalism predictions for 2017 from Nieman’s Lab

Key figures in the field are breaking out the runes, Tarot cards, tea leaves and a dartboard or three to forecast the emerging landscape in the incipient year.

With 2016 finally over and 2017 in its infancy, we’re looking at predictions for, well, everything.

One of the most insightful looks ahead is Nieman Lab’s annual Predictions for Journalism from journalists, editors and other key figures in the media. Ranging from fake news to the “selfie” of journalism and thinking beyond the click, here are several important trends to watch for in 2017 in journalism and the news media in general.

1. Headlines matter: Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion, says: “Even with the best-crafted headline in the world, for every person who clicks on it, there are hundreds, if not thousands, who see it, digest it and simply move on. People get their news from headlines now in a way they never did in the past.”

PR professionals similarly must focus on the headline of a story to get journalists’ attention.

2. Clicks and great editing: Many contributors in the NiemanLab’s roundup have predictions about rethinking the “click.” Kawandeep Virdee, a member of the product team at Medium, writes, “Sites will explore further what it means to allow readers to be more active, giving their audience more expression and the ability to take part in a two-way conversation.”

Michael Kuntz, senior vice president of digital revenue at USA Today Network, says news outlets will focus less of their resources on “off-platform expansion”—whether through Facebook Instant Articles or Snapchat Discover—and more on building trust with readers. Social media networks struggled to do so in 2016.

Fake news and catchy headlines might have driven clicks last year, but building trust, meticulous editing and the ability to have a deeper conversation about a story is what will provide value to the reader and the publication. As Lee Glendinning, editor of The Guardian U.S. said, “The challenges we face as journalists in framing, emphasis, skepticism and tone call for highly focused editing which is unafraid, exacting, details-driven and intelligent.”

3. “Selfie” journalism: This will become more prevalent as 2017 rolls out, says Taylor Lorenz, director of emerging platforms at The Hill. Live streams on social media platforms can reach a larger audience than a writeup or even video shown in a later broadcast.

Soon we might be pitching a story specifically for publication on Snapchat.

4. Journalism is community: Journalism will get back to its roots in 2017, says Geetika Rudra, data analyst at Dataminr. The sense of community cannot be forgotten across various media channels. PR professionals must help journalists build and shape communities through local stories and news coverage.

5. Mobile websites are ready for reinvention: “Most of the top 50 digital news websites get more traffic from mobile than the desktop, but time spent on mobile sites is usually less than that on the desktop,” says Priya Ganapati, director of product for Quartz. Ganapati predicts we will see more mobile-native experiences and less of a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile and desktop experiences.

A version of this article first appeared on the Inkhouse blog.

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