Fake news furry a positive for journalism future
THE current uproar over fake news can work to the media’s advantage as audiences are increasingly demanding credible journalism.
Vincent Peyrègne, the chief executive of WAN-IFRA (World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) made these comments yesterday during a presentation on the major developments within the media industry over the past year.
Addressing a session during the second day of the World News Media Congress in Durban, Peyrègne said the past year had been a roller-coaster ride for the media with audiences losing trust in traditional media while showing a growing interest in digital platforms.
He said in South Africa, it has become rife especially as the country is approaching the ANC’s elective conference.
Inadvertently the phenomenon of fake news has also led to the emergence of fact-checking mechanisms and institutions such as Africa Check.
“We need to champion the success of such initiatives: they show that readers are looking for reliable journalism, and solutions. Trust in discerning media providers is increasingly precious, and newsrooms at the heart of trusted media organisations are the error correction of the Internet. There is a lot to be done.”
In his presentation, Peyrègne said the media is entering an era where users understand that good journalism has value, and are prepared to pay for it.
“While trust in traditional media generally is falling, readers of the most trusted news sources are increasingly prepared to pay for access. Digital reader revenues grew by 28% from 2015 to 2016,” he said.
The trends show that there has been growth in digital subscriptions with many publications now having between 20 to 30% digital-only subscribers, he said. The New York Times and the Times in the UK are some of the success stories globally.
A recent Media Insight Survey by the American Press Institute confirms that there is substantial evidence that more consumers could begin paying for news in the future.
“Half of those who do not pay for news actively seek out news and behave as subscribers would in various ways. Nearly 2 in 10 of those who don’t subscribe to news said they may start doing so.”
WAN-IFRA will this year launch partnerships with the Innovation research group and Chartbeat which will help with forming a more complete picture on the behaviour of digital audiences. He added: “People seek explanatory stories, journalism that helps make sense of the chaos around them.”
PROFIT: Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA