As CitySavvy celebrates its tenth year of operation, it seems a good moment to look ahead at what we can expect our world to look like in ten years’ time.
By 2026 I expect the media landscape will bear little resemblance to that seen ten or 15 years ago, when digital was only just starting to emerge as an exciting new medium, its universally transformative potential not yet fully understood.
Right now we are mid-way through an evolution that I believe will see many of the well-known, mainstream media brands disappear in the course of the next decade, replaced by a massive and fragmented universe of highly specialised online news and comment sites.
While some hard-copy, generalist publications may remain, these will be going the way of the CD and DVD. Traditional news-style content will be pulled from a wide variety of sources – professional and amateur – then curated and consumed through a single, infinitely customized interface.
No longer will you be a Times, or a Guardian, or a Financial Times reader. Instead you could take the sports coverage from Sky, but supplement this with reporting on your favourite team from a passionate but unofficial blogger, while your political news comes from Al-Jazeera and your financial news from two selected Financial Times and Economist commentators.
What is really interesting about this is how the commercial model will change as a result. The likes of YouTube and Spotify have shown that a direct relationship with end consumers can be lucrative, enabling them to reward the most popular content creators and, in the case of Netflix in particular, to commission new, high-quality material.
Today magazines and newspapers struggle to survive on increasingly meagre advertising revenues, making do with ever-more stretched resources. For journalists, the idea of instead being paid by a media-aggregating platform like Flipboard and rewarded for the quality and popularity of your content, must be attractive. The aforementioned examples show that this is certainly viable, and I expect that this is a future we will start to see emerge sooner rather than later.
The media landscape of 2026 will be disparate and individualistic, shaped by consumer demand and financed in direct proportion to that demand. Today anyone with a blog can be a journalist, as long as they are happy to work for free. But as this becomes more lucrative, the bar will rise and only the best writing and most informed or engaging opinion will survive. This may be bad news for traditional media groups, but is good news for consumers, and indeed for the budding journalists of the future.
By Julia Rea