Out of Scope

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Written by

Zach Grossman

Out of Scope

2024 Media Trends: What's In, What's Out

Banner Photo: News Media Association

Deciphering the media landscape in 2024 feels a bit like attempting to solve a Rubik's Cube – just when you think you've got it all figured out, a different side of the story presents a new challenge. But before you consider smashing that hypothetical cube against the wall in frustration, take a breather; we've got some insights to share on what’s in and what’s out for newsrooms everywhere in 2024.

IN: AI. It’s still everywhere.

After a stunning year in 2023, at the top of 2024, it’s clear that AI is here to stay. So you might as well come along for the ride.

Maybe your current AI interests only involve asking ChatGPT for the occasional email outline — or for advice on some more personal matters. However, AI has undeniably evolved to become a central topic in media coverage, with experts both welcoming and hand-wringing its potential impacts on the workplace, media, and civil society. Most prominent news outlets now feature entire departments dedicated to reporting on the latest AI-based advancements. And whether you’re aware of it or not, those advancements will likely be making waves in your industry shortly (if they haven’t already).

AI isn’t just a topic the media will continue to cover— some outlets have already been observed using AI in their reporting, with partial or entire stories relying on generative AI for copy. Even if a story isn’t covering AI explicitly, you might be surprised to find it has touched the story at one point or another.

OUT: Fully Staffed Newsrooms. Every man for himself!

“The layoffs are coming, the layoffs are coming!”

Like Mr. Revere's warnings of long ago, the notice is urgent and world-changing. Newsrooms are grappling with a new normal this year in the wake of recent staff reductions. Fewer employees on staff means fewer writers and reporters able to cover news, no matter how good a PR professional’s pitch may be. Fewer editors mean even the best-crafted and most stunning contributed content might fly under the radar of the lean teams struggling to evaluate all of their incoming pitches.

In tandem, there’s a free-for-all in the freelancing world. Seasoned journalists have been laid off and are now freelancing and pitching stories in an overcrowded landscape, resulting in a noticeable impact on the breadth and depth of their coverage. Those known for writing about niche subjects have shifted to broader beats, and are likely still waiting for their latest pitch to land — just like you.

This shift will affect both narrower topics and everyday beats as bandwidth constraints continue to challenge the media industry. Simply put, for every article you read in the new year, there are likely 15-20 equally compelling stories left on the editing room floor as the competition for coverage heats up.

IN: Disinformation. “I read it online, so it must be true!”

Picture this: Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded by friends and family. You haven't even dipped your fork into the mashed potatoes when your third cousin confidently declares that aliens have officially landed on Earth, all because they read it online.

A combination of factors—shortened attention spans, an overreliance on social media for news, and the rush to be the first to break a story—has disrupted the checks and balances that once ensured headline accuracy. Turbulence on other channels, including a certain social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has also allowed even high-quality news to be buried by nonsense. The result? Misinformation overload.

The takeaway? Make it a habit to double-check the validity of a story before sharing it with your network this year.

Final Thoughts

If you skimmed this blog post, you might get the impression that we've entered a dystopian realm where AI exclusively generates articles about AI, and nothing is fact-checked. But rest assured – despite a few new hurdles to clear, journalism and the media world are alive and well. The more we can all take the time to understand the substance and trajectory of these changes, the easier they will be to navigate.