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This is a huge piece from Simon Brew at Film Stories (thanks Chris Phin for flagging!) and I feel like I haven’t properly digested it yet. But there’s so much in it that had me nodding along when it comes to writing online more generally that I wanted to share it with you all this morning.
One of the most pertinent points he makes is that we’ve arrived at a way of [entertainment reporting / substitute with any topic] which has completely lost sight of the reader. Articles are optimised for SEO in ways that makes it easy for computers to process and to keep visitors on the page as long as possible, which in his industry, is how you end up with full articles about things that should only really need a sentence or two to answer.
SEO has been the tail wagging the dog for too long, which leaves publishers very vulnerable to ‘better’ search experiences, i.e. generative AI. Brew does set out a more positive manifesto than I can distil here (a reader is more important than a click!) so pop the kettle on and give this one 10 mins of your time.
Subscribers like digital offers, joining a community or supporting independent news. But new research indicates what really gets them over the line is the right combination of appeals. There were two stand-out highly performing combinations. The first was normative and price transparency, like appealing to support journalism and why it needs funding to survive. The second was a three-prong combination of digital, social and price transparency.
There are some encouraging findings in these trust rankings. Unsurprisingly, brands like the FT, ITV, BBC and The Economist are found to be the most trustworthy, while others like the Daily Mail, The Mirror and the Star have high levels of mistrust. What makes me sad is that The Sun is also one of the most-read brands in the UK, so there must be a huge number of people who continue to read its stories despite having little to no trust in it.
To tie all these stories nicely together is this one from Toolkits. As we brace ourselves for a complete tsunami of AI-generated crap, we will hopefully see audiences turn to quality, trusted publishers as a way of filtering through it all and finding information they can rely on. Those trust rankings are about to become all the more important…
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