Vision Paper – Srosh Anwar

I grew up in Pakistan in the 90’s. When I was very young we used to have a black and white television with two sliding doors and there were only two channels on the TV. One was the National Television and the other one was India’s National Television which came on air for a few hours. People’s life revolved around the timing of the TV or TV scheduled its transmissions according to the lifestyle of people. There were regular news bulletins after every two hours. At 9 p.m. there used to be the longest news bulletin which lasted for 30 minutes – after it ended everyone would get ready to go to bed.

Even though television had become very common in every household at that time but most people still trusted the newspaper to get their news – most probably because newspapers were not state owned unlike the television. In the absence of internet – people had to wait until next morning to get updates on the news. A small number of evening newspapers also existed which were not taken seriously because they only printed sensationalized news like celebrity scandals.

Early 2000’s changed the journalism scene in Pakistan with the arrival of private channels with 24 hours news coverage. Right now Pakistan must have at least a dozen news channels each competing with the other channel to be the first to broadcast the breaking news. Only a few major newspapers are making an effort to create their presence online.

On the other hand print and digital including newspapers and magazine in United States are at least 5 years ahead as compared to Pakistan – using technology like VR, 360 videos, 3D videos to engage with the readers. I am pretty sure that countries which are let behind will catch up with the new technology in a few years’ time. There are a few observations that I have regarding the future of journalism and media in the world.

 

VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual reality will be the next big thing in the coming decades. At this moment major newspapers are experimenting with this technology however it is still in its infancy. In most cases bulky headset are required. It will evolve and become indispensable after the equipment needed to experience VR would be owned by everyone.  By 2030 – VR will evolve to the point that no one would need glasses, headset or oculus to experience it. At this moment users are able to step in a virtual reality scene. By 2013 media outlets would be creating content where users not only will be able to step in VR scenes but also walk around, listen, feel and have auditory and tactile simulation. It will be a great tool for storytelling – a firsthand experience – just like being there.

 

AUTOMATIC CONTENT GENERATION THROUGH ALGORITHMS

Automated content generation through algorithm would replace actual people writing mundane news like weather reports, sports news, and score updates etc.

 

DRONES

Drones would become indispensable for creation of news by 2030. However – there will be clear guidelines regarding the use of drones for the collection of news. There would be licenses for space on the air and paths just like any other sort of air traffic. Big media outlets would be monopolizing the best spots on air.

 

AUGMENTED REALITY

Distances wouldn’t matter anymore because people would see their loved one in faraway places siting right beside them through augmented reality.

PowerPoint presentations, bill boards for advertising or maybe even computer would be obsolete. AR would be used for any form of presentation of data, information and advertising.

 

TELEPATHY

Telepathy won’t be a supernatural phenomenon anymore. Humans would have chips in their brain which will help them communicate with other people without speaking or saying anything.

 

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF GOOD TRADITIONAL JOURNALISM WILL STILL APPLY NO MATTER WHAT TECHNOLOGY IS USED

Journalists today are all-rounder who not only possess the traditional writing and editing skills but also knows how to take good photos, shoot video and edit it. Or even if they don’t know the technology at least they can visualize stories using different mediums. I believe that no matter what medium or technology is used to get the news story whether it is a drone footage or a 3D video or text– if it is not factual, manipulative, defying ethics of journalism – it will lose its credibility.

 

STORYTELLING WILL STILL REMAIN THE CORE ELEMENT OF JOURNALISM

Stories could be written using algorithms but it is mere transmission of facts. It is stories that people want to read, watch, experience or feel. In the future I see more realistic experience created for the audience using technologies like AR and VR – with nothing left for the imagination. In the next 10, 20 or 30 years people would still want to follow stories which are personalized and which touch an emotional cord.

 

PEOPLE WILL LIKE TO SEE MORE AND READ LESS

As newspapers are focusing more on their digital presence – they are also taking into consideration how user are consuming the news. With the rise of users reading news from their cell phone devises, tablets etc. online publication are in the process of continuously adapting and readjusting. In the next few decades the written content will further shrink – articles will be much shorter accompanied with lots of multimedia.  Long form journalism will start disappearing. People will like simple graphics, visuals, and videos as compared to long narratives.

 

SPEED WILL MATTER

We are in an age of information mayhem. News sites are updating regularly even during a course of day – providing people with hourly or even minute by minute news. It will get faster and faster in the coming years.

 

PEOPLE WON’T TRUST THE WRITTEN WORD AND MEDIA AS THEY USED TO

There was a time when people trusted the written word blindly. I remember when I was growing up – the columnists in the newspapers were like celebrities and everyone knew them by their name. Only highly educated and intellectual people having literary predisposition were part of newspapers and magazines.

Today, everyone can state their opinion through writing blogs or social media or take pictures and videos. It is great that ordinary people have a voice in the public, social and political discourse – which has also given a rise to citizen journalists – providing news and commentary from places where even journalists can’t reach.

However on the downside – the consumer of that information- the audience have to sift through a lot of information – they are more skeptical and more uncertain about the truthfulness of the written word and media in general. This trend will continue in the future. The media will be under strict scrutiny of their audience until they develop trust and credibility – which will be very hard to establish.

 

PAPER PUBLICATIONS WILL BE A LUXURY

Newspapers are cutting budgets on paper publication because the volume of newspaper ads are reducing and people are getting their news online. However, glossy magazines are still something people like to subscribe and keep. In the next few decades print publication would almost be obsolete especially in the case of newspapers. There will be a small number of print magazines which will be a luxury to have not a necessity like newspaper.