Credit: Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash

2022 has been full of surprises in the tech space. Besides Elon Musk's ill-fated acquisition of Twitter, advances around the Metaverse and artificial intelligence have not slowed down.

We asked four industry experts for their best insights on what may happen next. If you are looking for trends around newsroom leadership, product, and revenue click here.

Avoid distractions: Thomas Baekdal, media analyst

This might be an unpopular view but there are a lot of distractions in the market. Things that everyone is obsessed about but that do not help publishers in any meaningful way, or worse, waste your time.

I am talking about things like Facebook’s Metaverse, Web3 or ChatGPT. They all look fancy but they are not useful from a journalistic perspective. They are either based on ‘making sh**t up’, which journalistically is not something we can use for anything or just making waves without ever solving any problem or need.

Maybe in five or 10 years, some of these tools will have matured and improved and maybe then we should think about it. But, in 2023, I see no reason to spend any time on them.

More synthetic media: Charlie Beckett, LSE media and comms professor and director of Polis

I am surprised how the adoption of AI-powered tools has accelerated in the last year. 2023 could see another significant shift in its pace and pervasiveness.

I have worked with and talked to newsrooms from Köln to Cape Town, Buenos Aires to Mumbai, who are using automation, curation, data-scraping, and content creation tools. They are deploying AI to fight fake news and offensive speech, but also to personalise editorial services and optimise revenue generation.

At a time of great constraint for the news industry, it is hard to find the time, skills and resources to explore and implement AI solutions. But momentum is building and you do not have to start from scratch anymore.

One area that I was always sceptical about was the creation of content because of the relative complexity of writing articles or editing video and audio. But recent progress in managing metadata as well as the well-publicised advances in both text and image generation suggest the algorithms are getting more creative, accurate and reliable.

2023 will see massive shifts in the volume of 'synthetic' media production. I expect bigger news organisations to go from marginal to substantial percentages of content created (largely) by machines. At the same time, smaller, digital native, specialist news organisations will exploit their nimble capacity to adopt key tools to leverage their editorial missions.

Opportunities for local publishers: Cecilia Campbell, chief marketing officer, United Robots

2022 was the year when AI and automation in the newsroom became a mainstream topic for local media. It also shifted from buzz to practicality and it is not difficult to see why.

While national or international news brands may have the bandwidth to start using new tech just for the sake of trying out the latest, for local media it is all about solving problems. Looking ahead to the new year, I see two challenges in particular, for which local newsrooms are increasingly turning to AI.

Firstly, the lack of time and journalists is the overriding issue for the vast majority of local publishers. Their mindset is now one of embracing the opportunities the tech offers to increase the breadth of topics and the number of stories they can cover, and the size of the audience.

Secondly, editors and journalists are at the heart of local newsrooms. Supported by AI, they have the opportunity to create more and even better journalism for local communities.

Tech talent released into the wild: David Smydra, former head of HITL curation at Twitter

In 2023 we will see a thrilling acceleration in innovative news products. More journalists understand product development than ever before and the tech layoffs of 2022 have just released most of that talent back to the media industry.

Over the past dozen years, while newsrooms contracted and disappeared, thousands of journalists and content specialists found stable and remunerative roles at Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snap, TikTok and countless startups. (Disclosure: I was one of them.)

But now, as tech companies get financially squeezed, they tend to discount the value of content expertise and mostly decide to let their content experts go. And the firms waiting for those experts? Media companies that have undergone the digital transition and emerged stronger for it.

While tech firms are just beginning a period of contraction, media companies have been on this journey for years. As a result, a sizeable number of newsrooms have rebuilt their operations to focus on digital in much more sustainable ways.

Those will be the firms who are likely to recruit this newly available crop of product-trained journalists who might, for good reason, be wary of re-upping for another role at a platform. These journalists will be eager to build exciting digital products in a professional environment that more closely aligns with their values and long-term career goals -- now they have the skills to do it.

First, most of these staffers will receive decent severance payments that will act as seed money to fund new entrepreneurial projects. Second, as in every economic downturn, the strongest players will invest while talent is abundant and cheap – in this case, media outlets that are already all-in on digital. Last, and most important, AI projects will continue to demand high-quality data in order to evolve.

The future is mobile: Rob Layton, assistant professor of mobile journalism, Bond University

Mobile journalism continues to gain traction around the world as major news outlets adopt mojo to some degree in their news-gathering strategies.

Many factors contribute to mojo’s growth – accessibility, intimacy, affordability, journalists expected to do more with less – but overarching these is technology.

My forecast for 2023 is that smartphone cameras will continue to outpace traditional camera technologies through computation and innovation, and more journalists will leverage and rely on smartphone camera innovations for video storytelling.

In 2022, we saw significant advances in smartphone camera systems. Artificial intelligence and machine learning came to the fore, powered by neural engines exponentially more powerful than their predecessors (so-called because they emulate organic neural networks, such as the brain).

This has enabled smartphones to know what they are looking at. Not only can they differentiate between people and things, they can now identify individuals within an image and edit them independently. Apple calls it “scene-understanding technology”.

Perhaps the most useful advance of 2022 for journalists was Apple’s improved Cinematic Mode, in which the camera creates a three-dimensional depth map to artificially blur the background or foreground of a scene to isolate a subject for narrative emphasis.

I have been incorporating this more into my mojo workflows, as I explore what I have been calling Cinematic Mobile Journalism (cinemojo) as part of my PhD project, and see this as being mojo’s growth area.

The future of mojo looks bright and cinematic.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).