2014
Credit: Image via Thinkstock
We asked five industry experts from local, national and international news outlets to share their predictions for digital journalism in 2014.

The 10 key trends they identified include short-form video, private social media, drone journalism, responsive design and new apps and devices.

You can also listen to a podcast of these predictions here.

1) Mobile and responsive design

Mobile is clearly the growth space for news providers, and potentially for advertisers as wellJason Mills, ITV News
Jason Mills, online editor at ITV News, believes that "mobile is clearly the growth space for news providers, and potentially for advertisers as well."

It is a view shared by Cory Haik, executive producer and senior editor for digital news at The Washington Post, who predicts that in 2014: "Small screens have the biggest gifts to offer".

Haik insists that newsrooms should always "consider the device" when creating content and predicts a trend for what she calls "adaptive journalism".

This is the idea that news outlets should be creating content designed specifically for different devices, whether users are at home using a tablet or perhaps at the airport using a smartphone.

Peter Bale, general manager and vice president of digital at CNN International, believes responsive design will be a key area in 2014."There will be some beautiful mobile sites that are in fact the full website," he explained.

2) Geo-targeted content

Jason Mills expects a growth in the amount of traffic websites receive from mobile as opposed to desktop and, as a result of this, a "greater awareness of the sort of news that can be delivered via mobile, in particular geolocated news."

This year, Mills predicts that geotargeted content will become just as important as real-time news. "So [news] not only right now, but right now where I am," he added.

Ed Walker, digital development editor at Trinity Mirror, also believes geolocation will be high on the news agenda this year, something he attributes to "the rise of apps as a major way to consume news".

3) Private social media

Marc Settle, a trainer in smartphone journalism at the BBC College of Journalism, said it would be interesting in 2014 to see how news organisations might respond to "private social media" in 2014

"You've got things like Snapchat and Instagram Direct and Twitter can now share direct message with photos – how do news organisations get content onto those platforms?" he asked.

Settle noted that news outlets had done a very good job at getting content out through public social media, "but now this is a much more private way of sharing information."

"There are already lots of stats about teenagers moving away from Facebook, because that's where their parents now are, and instead spending a lot of time on Snapchat," he added.

"Are news organisations going to be able to tap into where teenagers are now? There's not much evidence of it at the moment so maybe 2014 is the year when that happens."

4) Drone journalism

drone
Credit: By Don McCullough on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Peter Bale predicts that drone journalism, especially photography from drones, is going to become "not commonplace, but very frequently used" by the end of 2014.

He points to CNN's footage of the Costa Concordia, the Taksim Square protests in Istanbul and Typhoon Haiyan which was all shot using drones and "could not have been done any other way".

One of the main benefits for journalists, Bale added, is "being able to unpack from a suitcase something that would otherwise require a helicopter and cost as much per hour as the drone costs in its entirety".

He anticipates drones being used for everything from news bulletins to weather reports, "provided we can all overcome the civil aviation rules." However it is worth noting that strict rules apply on the use of drones in the UK. And different countries have different rules, so do your research first. In February last year the Federal Aviation Administration issued this 'fact-sheet' on Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the US.

In his own collection of digital journalism predictions, based on feedback from the industry, digital strategist Nic Newman also highlighted drones as a talking point, but stated that while they "provide dramatic new angles for television news" they "will not save built news programmes from an alarming slump in viewing".

5) Short-form video

Mobile devices are designed for short videos, mostly. So are new organisations going to respond to that by giving people that kind of content?Marc Settle, BBC College of Journalism
Marc Settle notes that 2013 saw large increases in the number of people viewing videos on mobile across almost all news sites. This, he adds, has implications for the kind of content news organisations are delivering to people.

"Mobile devices are designed for short videos, mostly," he said. "So are new organisations going to respond to that by giving people that kind of content?"

Settle points to organisations like Now This News, which produces 15-second news stories, and also the BBC, which is publishing 15-second snippets from interviews as well as specially-made pieces of video to its Instagram account.

"Designed for the smartphone generation, they seem to be working very well," Settle said. "You're going to see much more of that, particularly with the growth of 4G networks when more people can access video more quickly, wherever they are."

6) Real-time analytics

Ed Walker predicts a trend for media organisations "really exploring analytics".

"If there's one thing that had the biggest impact on our regional digital teams over the last 12 months it is probably the introduction of Chartbeat," he said.

This live analytics platform allows Trinity Mirror's newsrooms to see what the most popular stories are at any given moment and react to that in real-time.

"We're starting to really learn what our online audience likes to consume and really starting to focus content around them rather than repackaging content from our existing print titles," he explained.

7) Windows Phones

Marc Settle claims that Windows Phones could make "a real breakthrough" in 2014 – provided they get a wider choice of apps. 

"Everyone talks about iOS Apple and also Android but I think the Windows Phones that are coming out now, particularly on Nokia devices, have got such amazing cameras – much better even than the iPhone 5S," he said.

"At the moment Windows Phones slightly fall down in that they have fantastic cameras, they just don't have the apps that let you do clever things with the content you get.

"If that circle can be squared, then I think Windows Phones could make a real breakthrough for journalists gathering and creating content."

8) Wearable tech

[Google Glass] could be as big for journalism as the smartphone wasMarc Settle, BBC College of Journalism
Settle also notes that Google Glass "may just transform everything radically in 2014 – assuming it comes out in 2014".

It is not yet clear whether Google will release the product – which has been available to a few select people since April 2013 – commercially this year.

And while Settle notes potential issues around cost, privacy and safety, he adds that Google Glass "could transform not only how news is gathered by journalists… but also how members of the public get news."

"This could be as big for journalism as the smartphone was."

In his own predictions round-up Nic Newman added: "In technology [we can] expect more hype around wearable computing (iWatch), smart home appliances and the coming of age of 3D printing and virtual reality headsets (Oculus Rift)."

9) Anticipatory news

Cory Haik predicts another trend for new organisations doing more with the user data that's available to them, something she calls "anticipatory news".

"It's news that's built around the data you're sharing, for example your calendar or your location," she explained. "Anticipating where folks will be and what they're doing based on the information they're building up."

"If a news organisation pays attention to personal data and preferences that users are opting into there's a lot that [they] can offer up."

10) Native advertising

One area which Peter Bale thinks will see big developments in 2014 is what he calls "creative solutions", otherwise known as native advertising or sponsored content.

He added that 2014 would see further advances from CNN and many other news outlets in "really sophisticated propositions for users, consumers and advertisers which will help [publishers] maintain or drive up advertising revenue".

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