The Future is Now


“‘The Wonder Years’ aired from 1988 and 1993 and depicted the years between 1968 and 1973…If a new ‘Wonder Years’ premiered today, it would cover the years between 2000 and 2005.”

If that makes you feel old, blame Tim Urban, who made that observation on his blog, waitbutwhy.com. In his article, “It’s 2020 and you’re in the future,” Urban also points out the O.J. Simpson trial is now halfway between the 1960s and today, and closer to the Charles Manson trial; if you’re 60 or older, you were born closer to the 1800s than today; and most kids today will live to see the 2100s.

So, if you think we’re still waiting for the future, think again because it’s here.

The same can be said about the news industry. As we reflected on this past decade, one hard lesson we had to learn was that we continue to still be behind. While many of the larger media organizations like the New York Times and Washington Post are already taking steps toward video, virtual reality, and digital platforms, many old legacy companies are still trying to catch-up to the habits of today’s consumers.

For instance, seven out of every 10 digital minutes is spent on mobile, and nine out of every 10 mobile minutes are spent in an app, Mobile Marketing magazine editor David Murphy said in a recent INMA webinar.

“If you get your app downloaded, the next step is to make it so useful that the consumer will continue to use it. The percentage of users that stick with an app after 30 days is very low, in the single digits,” he added.

And how do we make sure these consumers stay around? We create the content they want to see.

Tini Sevak, video president of audiences and data at CNN International Commercial, wrote in “Why Trust, Reliability and Relevance Matters Most to News Consumers” that as technology, data and connectivity increases, audiences today have higher expectations and lower attention spans.

“For the first time, there was a shift in the use of media to create value for customers. This whistle-stop tour helps (contextualize) the journey of how and why we reached the modern marketing era and what created the consumer demands we witness today,” she wrote. “With consumers now having more choice, power and information they are making faster, more connected decisions about spending and media consumption.”

As a result, many audiences are looking for trusted news sources. Audiences are checking social (83 percent), search (73 percent), and news sites and apps (77 percent) at least once or multiple times daily, according to a CNN Bespoke Brand Perception Study.

And how do we make sure these audiences come to us first? Again, we create the content they want to see.

So, my piece of advice to the industry for 2020 and beyond is this: Don’t hold back. If you want to experiment with virtual reality and artificial intelligence, do it. If you want to create more video, more podcasts, do that too. If you want to report the facts and truth, even if it’s going to ruffle some feathers, definitely do that.

Not everything will stick (remember QR codes?) but we have to operate as though we’re living in the future because before we know it, we will already be living in the past.

Nu Yang is editor-in-chief of Editor and Publisher. She has been with the publication since 2011.


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