Current trends in the news industry and the use of AI in media companies

The Digital News Report 2023 shows current trends in news consumption. Various media companies have also revealed how they are experimenting with AI.

Digital News Report 2023: Trends and challenges in the news industry

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) is the publisher of the Digital News Report, one of the world's most comprehensive studies on news consumption. For the News Report 2023, RISJ surveyed more than 93,000 people in 46 markets about their news consumption.

One of the findings of the study is that audiences are becoming increasingly dependent on digital and social platforms. The advertising-financed and subscription-based business models of media companies are suffering as a result, as both private individuals and companies are holding back on spending.

Declining interest in news can be observed in many countries. This goes hand in hand with dwindling trust in the quality of the media and an increasing alienation between journalists and potential readers.

Interaction with online news beyond mere consumption is declining. Just one fifth of respondents share and comment on online news. 47 percent stay away from the news.

News podcasts are very popular among younger and more educated consumers. Around a third of respondents from 20 countries listen to a podcast every month.

The news industry's business models are suffering from the economic downturn. More than a third of subscribers say they have canceled or renegotiated their online news subscription. The average share of those paying for online news remains at 17 percent in more than 20 countries for the second year in a row.

How can publishers respond to these developments?

  • Optimizing reach and engagement on social media, using newsletters and effective SEO: Publishers should maximize their presence on social media, use newsletters and apply SEO strategies. They should also adapt content for different platforms and formats.
  • Better understand and serve their audience: They should find ways to better understand their audience and provide relevant, credible and engaging content with added value. At the same time, they should strengthen trust in their brand and journalistic standards.
  • Transparency in the selection and presentation of content: Publishers should disclose how they select and present their content and give users more control over their news experience.
  • Encouraging and moderating interaction: Publishers should also take measures to encourage and moderate interaction with readers. This includes a diverse and inclusive comment culture and a willingness to engage in constructive dialog with the audience.
  • Increasing interest in news and reducing news avoidance: Media organizations can achieve these goals by covering diverse topics and perspectives, telling positive and solution-oriented stories, and considering the emotional resonance of their content.
  • Exploring the possibilities of podcasts: Podcasts allow publishers to expand, engage and monetize their audiences over the long term.

You can find the complete Digital News Report 2023 at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

AI in practice: How media companies benefit from artificial intelligence

AI is no longer science fiction, but can support media companies in many areas. Whether content production, marketing, analysis or process optimization - AI offers a wide range of opportunities to increase the quality, efficiency and relevance of media offerings. But how are media companies actually using the technology and what experiences have they had with it? The industry magazine Kress Pro asked around.

RTL Deutschland uses AI primarily for digital offerings and the RTL+ streaming platform. AI-based search, algorithms for a personalized page structure or recommendation algorithms are examples of technologies that RTL is developing with the help of content and user data. RTL Germany also uses AI in contextual advertising to select suitable advertising material for the content. AI also determines reader satisfaction. RTL Germany sees AI as a turning point and an opportunity to scale and expand its core offering.

At Landwirtschaftsverlag , AI has been integrated into processes and products for years. Machine learning algorithms are used for business analytics, data mining, predictive analytics and product recommendations. AI also helps with image recognition, data classification and the prevention of spam and unwanted bots on websites. In the field of generative AI, initial research and development projects are being carried out and prototypes created to explore the possibilities. The publishing house has built up an extensive network of partners and service providers and promotes the exchange of AI experts across all areas of the company.

The Vogel Communications Group is testing the support of AI in programming and is focusing, for example, on the integration of OpenAI into its development environment. The use of Microsoft Copilot for Office and Dynamics is also being evaluated. In order to expand their expertise, they have set up a company-wide exchange group and use external and internal presentations as well as regular meetings in the "AI Business Lounge", where employees, researchers, users and students can exchange ideas and network.

Heise Online has also identified various areas of application for AI. The publisher is testing the use of artificial voice for an IT news podcast. In addition, the editorial team is using AI to create images, develop editorial formats, translations, spell-check and formulation aids. They are also experimenting with ChatGPT as a source of ideas for articles.

The editorial team emphasizes the importance of doing their own research and following AI influencers and developers to stay on top of the latest technology. Planned cross-team workshops are intended to promote the internal exchange of knowledge and possibly involve external consultants.

The following lessons for other editorial teams can be drawn from the experience reports:

  • Start with concrete use cases: Identify specific areas where AI could improve day-to-day work, such as automatically categorizing content or assisting with translations.
  • Build expertise: Give employees opportunities to familiarize themselves with AI technologies. Training courses, workshops and exchanges with experts are ideal for this.
  • Establishing a knowledge-sharing community: creating platforms where employees can share experiences, best practices and challenges in dealing with AI.
  • Collaborations and partnerships: Exploring opportunities to collaborate with companies, organizations or universities to expand knowledge and expertise in the field of AI.
  • Keeping up to date: knowledge of developments, new applications and best practices must be kept up to date in order to utilize the full spectrum of the technology.

The successful integration of AI into everyday working life requires a combination of strategic planning, knowledge building and close collaboration between technology and expertise. Through the targeted use of AI, editorial teams can work more efficiently, develop innovative content and position themselves for the future.