Past, now, future
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Online video, podcasts and explainer journalism are some of the formats to watch in 2015, digital strategist Nic Newman outlined in his Media, Journalism and Technology Predictions report published yesterday.

Newman, associate fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, looked at trends in the technology world from wearables to drones, as well as the inner workings of newsrooms to highlight areas to watch this year.

Here are 6 predictions for journalism in 2015 from the report:

"The year of mobile video"

Not only do people watch more video on their mobile phones, but they also produce more themselves, Newman wrote, highlighting the popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge which flooded Facebook feeds back in the summer.

More news organisations are also investing in video teams for their online offering, he said, pointing to the New York Times and Bloomberg as examples.

Newman said Vice News is the "poster boy" for this trend. Its YouTube channel passed the 1 million subscribers mark before the end of 2014, and their videos have been played over 150 million times since launch.

Vice News head of programming for the Europe, Kevin Sutcliffe, said the outlet's approach to video has a "raw" and "real" feeling, with stories told by people "who are also the audience".

Podcasts on the rise

Newman predicts a "rebirth of audio" and the "revival of the podcast" in 2015, after the noteworthy success of Serial last year.

He said the re-emerging popularity of podcasts in the United States is linked to the rise of "in-car infotainment systems" such as Aha Radio, which offer "podcast audio discovery".

And while listeners in the UK might expect their audio to be available for free, which would make funding podcasts difficult, crowdfunding is an option as proven by the success of podcasting network Radiotopia, which raised $600,000 last year.

Explainer journalism

"As facts become commoditised [sic], analysis and context become somehow more valuable," Newman wrote in the report.

He highlighted Vox and FiveThirtyEight among the publishers who have built their sites with the mindset that context trumps breaking news.

He also pointed out that other news outlets such as BBC and the Wall Street Journal have produced explainer journalism, while the Economist (for example) publishes one explainer piece every day.

All eyes on Facebook

As some dark traffic – web traffic from an unidentified source – was traced back to Facebook's mobile app in 2014, the report explained that "most publishers have been heavily undercounting Facebook traffic for some time".

Newman said this development and Facebook's algorithm changes will cause publishers to focus on Facebook over Twitter in the next year.

Data-informed publishing


Another trend highlighted by the report was the use of data to inform editorial decisions such as the types of stories a news outlet should cover and how they should be published.

He said more newsrooms will look at bridging the gap between teams exploring new formats and those looking at audience engagement, citing the Guardian as one of the leading examples.

The Guardian has its own in-house analytics platform called Ophan, and editorial director Aron Pilhofer is planning a newsroom restructure to "break down the barriers" that may prevent collaboration.

"We want to get to the point where we're looking at the right numbers and behaviours that we think are valuable," Pilhofer told Journalism.co.uk in October.

Digital native media "grows up"

Newman pointed to BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and Vice News as outlets who have been expanding worldwide in 2014 or have more plans to do so in the coming year.

And aside from pushing for a more global footprint, "digital-born" media outlets have also found a "new focus on heavyweight journalism" such as longform pieces.

"I think [longform] is something which is going to grow, especially in the UK and especially towards the election," Huffington Post UK editor Stephen Hull told Journalism.co.uk in December.

The report includes many other predictions, including a look at technology and more media and advertising trends to watch. Check out the full report here.

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