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In the discussions we’ve been having around AI and how it will change publishing, one point I’ve been clumsily getting at is that it will likely drive people to value ‘human’ content more. In her latest newsletter, Jacqui Merrington sets out far more eloquently exactly that point, drawing in the subscriptions slowdown and social traffic decline into it as well.
She believes that impact is key to the future sustainability of journalism. “In an era when AI will increasingly automate content gathering, production and distribution, there will be an increasing need to reinforce the humanity of journalism,” she writes. “Impact shows a connection with audiences, it measures the difference that journalism is making to people’s lives – something that AI can’t do.”
It’s a very positive approach (unsurprisingly, from a newsletter called the happy journalist). But it’s one that addresses a lot of the issues journalism faces today. “If journalism’s success was measured not in page views or subscriptions, but in metrics that determined its impact on readers and communities, that would not only highlight its value to audiences, but to advertisers, investors and governments too,” Merrington concludes.
Am I just particularly attuned to print stories at the moment after our latest episode, or have there been a spate of them recently?! Here, Dalya Alberge reports on a US publisher who has launched a print-only broadsheet in the style of a 19th-century newspaper. Most interestingly, it came out of a demand from readers for “in-depth stories and writing that needs time to savour.” And no, there’s no online edition.
From our community forum: Will Apple Podcast’s newly-announced support for third-party subscription tools tempt more publishers to try subscriber-only podcasts? Join the discussion.
Reach currently has 80 WhatsApp communities with around 100,000 subscribers in each, which delivers several million page views a month. The regional publisher sees WhatsApp as a way of making up for waning referral traffic from other social platforms (noting, of course, that Meta owns both publisher-hostile Facebook and WhatsApp). Could WhatsApp communities be a boost to other publishers?
For those of you left on Twitter X, any links shared will appear without headlines. Yes, that means link Tweets posts now just look like pictures with a teeny tiny URL on them. Musk says this “greatly improves the esthetics [sic]”. His crusade to make the platform entirely hostile to the journalists and news organisations who provided some of the greatest engagement continues.
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