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What’s the big journalism trend for 2017?

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The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s annual journalism trent predictions report, released Wednesday, starts out a little bleak and doesn’t exactly let up: In 2017, “key developments will center on fears about how changing technology is affecting the quality of information and the state of our democracy.” The report also highlights publishers’ conflicting views about the rise of social media platforms: Of the 143 editors, CEOs, and “digital leaders” surveyed across 24 countries:

— 70% said worries over the distribution of fake/inaccurate news in social networks will strengthen their position, while…

— 46% say they are more worried about the role of platforms than last year

— 56% say Facebook Messenger will be important or very important part of their offsite initiatives this year. 53% say the same for WhatsApp and 49% for Snapchat

— 33% of respondents from a newspaper background are more worried about their company’s financial sustainability than last year; just 8% are less worried

There are glimmers of hope in any number of as-yet-unproven-for-news technologies, including AR and VR and, perhaps most promisingly, automated voice assistants. Some bits from the report, written by Reuters Institute research associate Nic Newman:

-No wonder people are scared about digital ad revenue when Google and Facebook account for 99 percent of its growth in the U.S. Fact-checking will be big (no surprise there), and it’ll get automated. The report predicts “hundreds of browser extensions and message bots offering fact checking services” by the end of the year. Paul Bradshaw of Birmingham City University: “Nothing stimulates technological development like war, and the information wars are already generating increasingly ‘augmented journalism’ as news organizations — and social media — develop the weapons to fight back.”Print advertising revenue is also plummeting, but Fact-checking will be big (no surprise there), and it’ll get automated. The report predicts “hundreds of browser extensions and message bots offering fact checking services” by the end of the year. Paul Bradshaw of Birmingham City University: “Nothing stimulates technological development like war, and the information wars are already generating increasingly ‘augmented journalism’ as news organizations — and social media — develop the weapons to fight back.”

Read the full report here.

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