As we enter 2017 I can’t help wondering what lies in store for us in the world of media and communications.
There seems little doubt that social media channels will continue to grow in importance. Donald Trump already seems to have adopted the habit of making major policy announcements via his Twitter feed. This may not be altogether a bad thing. I well remember the1980s when politicians like Neil Kinnock would make speeches which seemed to go on for hours, so restricting them to 140 characters might be a refreshing change.
With many people under the age of 35 now relying on Facebook as their main source of news, the issue of fake news is likely to become more of an issue over the next 12 months. The problem is that Facebook, in common with many other social media outlets, sees itself as a platform for people to post whatever they like and doesn’t feel the need to verify the accuracy of what is being published.
As far as traditional media is concerned, there seems to be an increasing acceptance of subscription TV. We long ago reached the point where major sporting events like Premiership football and Test Match cricket are only available on subscription, and the same now seems to be happening to other forms of programming. You can only watch some of the most talked about dramas (Game of Thrones, Outlander, The Crown, etc) if you are willing to pay a monthly fee to the likes of Amazon or Netflix. News channels like BBC News and Sky News continue to be free to air, but you have to wonder for how much longer.
The New Year is likely to see the continuing sad decline in local newspaper readership. These publications are caught in a vicious circle in which declining advertising revenues lead to staff cuts, which lead to fewer editorial pages, which lead to fewer readers, which lead to declining advertising revenues.
The good news is that there is still quality journalism to be found, you just have to know where to look for it. Weekly and monthly magazines will hopefully continue to employ good writers who produce interesting copy. However, these publications do not come cheap with many having newsstand prices of around £5 per issue.
If you want quality media consumption in 2017 it looks like you are going to have to pay for it.