Editorial: Choose Your Future

What goes through your mind when I say future of news? Does your mind imagine advanced technology that will read our personalized news feed to us every morning? Does it picture a successful digital business model that will finally fix our declining print revenue? Or does it simply involve real journalists writing real news stories?

When I found out the theme to this year’s mediaXchange conference was “Futures of News,” I was curious to see how the News Media Alliance would create a program around that topic. I attended the event in New Orleans and sat through sessions about why publishers should partner with tech giants like Google and Facebook; how to win millennials; and how to engage with your audience through the social web. I visited with exhibitors and learned about different products and solutions that are available right now to take newspapers to the next level. As Alliance president and CEO David Chavern told me in my mediaXchange preview story, they picked this particular theme this year because what one future looks like for one newspaper might look different for another.

To sum it up: The future of news is not one size fits all.

If you flip through the pages of this issue, you will find other futures of news. We caught up with what the Alliance has been up to since Chavern was named president and CEO in 2015 (available online 6/5). Their current “Support Real News” marketing campaign has lit a fire within the industry, sparking many conversations among newspapers and their readers. The Alliance also has several new products and ideas coming out, and they want to make sure newspapers view them as their advocate. This future shows what happens when the group tasked to represent newspapers steps up and takes the lead to remind the public about the importance of real journalism.

Our Pulitzer Prize feature highlights this year’s journalism winners and showcases the celebrations that took place across newsrooms when the awards were announced in April. The Pulitzers are now in their 101st year, and they continue to recognize the work men and women are doing at papers as large as the New York Times or as small as the Storm Lake Times in Iowa. I’m excited to see where the awards will head over the next hundred years as the journalism field evolves. This future shows how integrity and trust will always prevail in journalism, no matter the size of your community and readership.

And there’s our cover story. Last year, we asked Central Michigan University journalism students “How can newspapers remain relevant and influential in a multiplatform digital age?” It was our first time working with a J-school on this kind of project, and we were so impressed with the students and learned so much from them that we decided to challenge another school with a new question: “If you could reintroduce the print newspaper to younger readers, how would you do it?” It wasn’t an easy question (and I’m not sure if even the most experienced publisher has an answer to it), but the students at Emerson College stepped up the plate and spent their spring semester finding solutions on how to transform the print product. Their story is filled with ideas that any publisher should seriously consider. This future shows what collaboration looks like, and it shows that young people still want to consume news—it may not be according to your way, but it’s time we listen to what young readers want if that’s the audience that’s going to revive newspapers.

So, choose your future. You might have more than one waiting for you, but whatever reality you step into, make sure it’s a step forward.

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Published: June 2, 2017

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