5 trends and predictions that will define news publishing in 2023

By Mette Tulin | Feb 07 2023 | Business | Insights | Media | Blogs

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Goodbye print production and hello AI-generated digital news? The news publishing industry has faced huge challenges and undergone an incredible amount of change over the past years. Now the industry will have to deal with the aftereffects of the global pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, economic challenges, as well as an ever-faster development of technologies. What lies ahead?

Here are 5 trend predictions for 2023 made by key voices in the news publishing industry.


1) Increased focus on subscription revenue

For a long time, advertising has been a leading revenue stream for digital publishers. But due to the rise of ad-blocking software and social media platforms leading to a shift in advertising spending, the publishing industry has started to focus on online subscription revenue.

According to Reuters Institute’s survey conducted amongst 303 media leaders, more publishers are investing in subscriptions and membership in 2023. The majority of those surveyed (80%) say this will be one of their most important revenue priorities – ahead of both display and native advertising. Despite the squeeze on consumer spending, over half (68%) still expect some growth in subscription and other paid content income this year.

While subscriptions will be a key focus for income, the consensus is that this year will be more focused on retaining existing subscribers, rather than adding new ones, Reuters Institute states.

However, with the increased economic pressures on households, everyone’s looking to cut spending where they can. “How will news subscriptions fare when weighed against Disney+ or other entertainment?” Esther Kezia Thorpe, media analyst and cofounder of Media Voices asks while predicting that subscription spending inevitably will be hit. Will the subscription pressure force the publishing industry to become more innovative in the fight to retain subscribers and prevent customer churn?


Reuters_Insitute_table-4Data from Reuters Institute's survey of 303 media leaders in 53 countries in November and December 2022.


2) Product innovation as a tool to create long-term reader relationships

The shift of priorities in the public together with the increase in entertainment content makes users constantly ask themselves: What value do I get from my subscription? Therefore, publishers need to consider ways to make that value known. 

Developing product extensions and features like interactive games, podcasts, newsletters, and books is a way to create extra value for readers and even retain them for longer. The New York Times has, for example, acquired the wildly popular game Wordle to give their readers a reason to come to The Times every day.

“Our ambition is to leverage the power of our brand and news audience reach to also become a category leader in other areas that can occupy a big place in people’s lives, like games, cooking, shopping advice and sports” New York Times president, international, Stephen Dunbar-Johnson says.

In terms of innovation, publishers say that they will be putting more resources into podcasts and digital audio (72%) as well as email newsletters (69%). These two channels have proved effective in increasing loyalty to news brands, according to Reuters Institute.

Publishers can also leverage data and business intelligence to understand their readers' preferences and habits. They can then use this information to create products and services that are tailored to the readers' needs. Creating a personalized reading experience through recommendations, push notifications, and customized content can be the key to creating long-term relationships with readers.

Overall, the key is to provide value and a unique experience to readers. Only time will tell what innovative ideas 2023 will bring for driving reader engagement.


3) Increased use of AI in the production of news

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have started to impact the real world – and sooner or later, they could make their way into newsrooms.

The AI chatbot named Chat GPT has been taking the world by storm since its launch in November 2022. Chat GPT is a trained model which interacts in a conversational way, answers questions, and produces content in a human tone of voice.

Powerful language models, such as Chat GPT, therefore give reporters the ability to partially automate the task of writing articles, Peter Sterne, an independent journalist in New York says. Combining this with generative text-to-image AI models like DALL-E 2 to deliver custom stock photos to newsrooms along with speech recognition models allowing reporters to easily transcript their interviews for free, AI could revolutionize the way journalists do their jobs. Will this change the publishing industry?

Although AI will help media companies do more with less, it will also bring new dilemmas about how these powerful technologies can be used ethically and transparently, both Peter Sterne and Reuters Institute note. Who can be credited as the author if a journalist relies too heavily on AI? What if the AI includes false or misleading information in an article?

All in all, it is predicted that 2023 will be the year when more creators will use AI tools to assist copywriting and creative processes.


4) Stop daily print production

The cost of publishing, especially of printing and paper, skyrockets and will go even higher in 2023. In addition, increasing distribution costs pose another challenge.

The cost pressure will force the pace of digital transformation. Many publishers still cling to print, both for understandable revenue reasons and because they can’t break away from the historic cycle of daily publication, Peter Bale, newsroom initiative lead of the International News Media Association, says.

According to Peter Bale, publishers must move fast and rethink ways to reduce or outsource print entirely. “Next year, those who moved fast over the past five years will come out on top, and those who didn’t will struggle, fire staff, and disappoint customers and advertisers with clunky sites, second-grade apps, and increasingly thin newspapers they’ll still try to charge the earth for” he states.

What will we see in 2023? Are publishers going paperless? Will they reduce publication days and go digital-only on certain days? When publishing digitally, publishers can keep the cycle of daily publication intact.


5) Digital publishing will continue to grow and secure the future for publishers

The economic indicators for 2023 do not look good and publishers will have to find a way to ride out the storm.

Companies that have already completed their digital transition and have a robust subscription business or diversified revenue remain in the best position to meet the challenges ahead, but those that are over-reliant on print or advertising have a tough few years ahead, Reuters Institute states.

The question is not whether to go digital, because if you're not there yet, you're already behind. News organizations that have not yet fully embraced digital will be at a severe disadvantage. The next few years will not be defined by how fast they adopt digital, but by how they transform their digital content to meet rapidly changing audience expectations.


Hungry for more on the news publishing trends and opportunities of 2023? 

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Mette Tulin