Every year, top journalists share what they think is coming. Here are some of their predictions for 2021:
I love stuff like this. It's a giant dump of experts talking about the future of their field. That makes it a potential goldmine for indie hackers looking to spot trends and opportunities to capitalize on.
I took some notes below on my favorite passages, trends, and predictions.
It's worth noting that the source this stuff comes from, Nieman Lab, is itself interesting. It's funded by Harvard, and they describe their mission as "an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age."
Basically: They do a lot of work to find out what's happening in journalism, then they publish their findings for free.
Their "Business Models" section seems like particularly useful reading for founders. Want to find out what is and isn't working for journalism? Here you go.
Like all opinions on (and off) the internet, these are heavily biased and prone to error. It's journalists discussing what they think journalism needs.
So you can't just turn off your brain and accept what they say as the gospel truth. Rather, it's better to treat this as a source of problems to which you can apply some indie hacker analysis.
I occasionally send out this newsletter with my thoughts on indie hacking. Subscribe to get new posts in your inbox. —Courtland
There are over 100 journalist predictions on the page. I read through a handful and skimmed the rest.
And here are some interesting passages, along with my notes:
For between 15 and 20 hours a week, I moderate misinformation in the comments section of Wall Street Journal articles. Based on the things I read there, I believe our current levels of discord and misinformation could be significantly reduced if people felt their experiences were more accurately reflected in the journalism they are consuming. (source)
Also, the case for more diversity in news rooms is strong.
(The same is true of fact checking and stopping the spread of misinformation. The business value isn't obvious, but support is massive.)
In podcasting, the download is the King on the chessboard — a useless figurehead and status symbol that must be protected at all costs… On the other hand, the listen-through rate is a true and mighty figurehead whose worth can be strengthened, measured, and influenced over time by creators and business owners. (source)
There's so much focus on helping podcasters and writers find advertisers…
What do audiences need from us? Not in the macro, but the micro. That new franchise you’re building, that podcast, the video series: Who is it for? What need is it serving? What will the audience do with it? Do they really want it, need it? Or are we just trying to keep their attention long enough for the ad to serve? (source)
Traditional media is just as concerned with engagement and selling ads as social media.
The way readers find information will continue to shift. It’s stressful to articulate an issue and seek out an answer, and I suspect most Americans will want to cut out stress from their lives. And after a year of urgency and chaos, I predict many people will be fine with a low-information diet. (source)
People spend more time consuming infotainment than dense, educational content.
TikTok will grow exponentially, but news outlets will never be able to harness it beyond brand building. And they shouldn’t! It’s not a social network so much as a boredom cure. The app’s time-agnostic algorithms are the opposite of newsy, but they’re perfect for entertainment purposes. (source)
Not every new channel is worth investing in.
On the flip side, sometimes "old" channels hit their stride in terms of adoption, and become more attractive than ever.
2021 will be a really good year for the business of local news. Local news is one industry this pandemic did not disrupt. The pandemic shined a light on the need for local journalism and local news outlets will benefit from new relationships residents are building with their local news providers. (source)
What other types of global trends are best delivered through local news? I bet there are stories local news should or could be telling that it isn't. Or ways of telling these stories that would resonate better with younger generations.
But the field is starting to see a different type of collaboration emerge, especially at the local level: collaborations centered on local news organizations’ business sides, focused on the development and strengthening of revenue streams and operations capacity. (source)
Local news is far from dead, and will never go away.
If media is a cafeteria, there’s no question that this year’s Popular Girl was Substack. It felt like every few weeks, someone new was getting invited to the cool kids’ table… to launch their own screamingly profitable personal newsletters. And while much ink has been spilled over the lucrative new incomes, the unleashed creative potential, and the sweet, sweet uncensored freedom entailed, there’s also been plenty of smart criticism over how the Substack model has most immediately rewarded established those with Twitter megaphones and decades-old followings. (source)
Okay, so lots of less-famous-but-very-talented journalists are struggling to make the jump to independence.
I strongly suspect 2021 will be a year in which we see the rebundling of independent-creator content… It’s one thing to pay $40 or $50 for a single newsletter from a writer you adore. It’s quite another thing to suddenly be faced with a newsroom’s worth of them, all charging more than most of your Hearst or Condé Nast annual subscriptions. (source)
I've been saying this for a few months. People in the creator economy are going indie. When everyone else is indie, there are benefits to joining forces (or providing tools and platforms to help people join forces).
Regardless of what you think about the various predictions and opinions, I think it's clear there's a lot of opportunity here.
More indie hackers should be building in the "content" space.
Not just for other people in tech, but also for people and companies in the media who've been underserved.
Thanks for reading!
I occasionally send out this newsletter with my thoughts on indie hacking. Subscribe to get new posts in your inbox.