Publishing Industry Trends You Need to Know in 2023

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Publishing Industry Trends You Need to Know in 2023

Pioneering publishing industry trends: constructive journalism, digital content, and artificial intelligence. Read about them in this article.

There is a breakthrough in the operating model of the publishing industry. Solutions towards more constructive journalism are gaining momentum. Readers' behaviours and needs, the turning point of Internet use, the regression of the dominance of social media, and the increase of artificial intelligence use – all impact the media. It's indicated by the latest Reuters Institute report presenting key publishing industry trends in 2023. 

The Reuters Institute report has been an indicator of what's happening in journalism and the media industry for over a decade. This year's report presents the critical publishing trends to come in 2023. It shows the reactions and opinions of global media organisations – the changes and innovations they want to introduce to keep up with readers' demands and market pressure. 

The reading crisis and new forms of journalism 

The reading crisis and new forms of journalism

The last two or three years have not been the best for the media, as reflected in the numbers. Among the readers surveyed:

  • 46% now avoid news (up from 24% in 2017); 
  • 43% say there are too many negative stories in the media; 
  • 36% think the news has a harmful effect on their mood. 

This avoidance of news worries over 70% of publishers, forcing them to adopt other ways of working and more constructive journalism. Many publishers have already adopted this operating model. Solutions Journalism Network has collected over 14,000 examples of such solutions worldwide. It was also noted that this approach is appreciated and more engaging for younger readers. 

Key insights, forecasts and trends for 2023 

Behind the reading crisis lies an economic problem affecting both traditional and digital publishers, although the situation looks better for the latter ones. 

European publishers are seeing a decline in print subscriptions, partly related to inflation and the breakdown of the distribution network already during the pandemic, and higher churn levels. 

In the US, The “Washington Post” has already shut down its 60-year-old print magazine but is also planning layoffs in its digital sector in 2023. One of the reasons is the declining traffic on prominent social media platforms (Facebook-Meta and Twitter), which are heading in new directions. It adds to the overall global media crisis, especially for media that have become addicted to social distribution. 

In the near future, we can expect:

  • a sharp decrease in circulation of the printed press, especially news magazines; 
  • growing importance of the digital press; 
  • more complicated development of advertising and commercial sponsorship; 
  • experimenting with more digital designs; 
  • combining on-demand news with live news on streaming services. 

In the survey, less than half (44%) of editors, CEOs and digital leaders say they are confident about their business prospects in the coming year, with nearly as many (37%) uncertain and about a fifth (19%) expressing very a lot of uncertainty.

5 most important publishing industry trends

Trends in the publishing industry in 2023 – 5 most important trends of the report

Trend 1: A turning point in Internet use 

In 2023, after decades of growth, there is a decline in the amount of time spent online. It decreased by 13% after a record-high usage related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a very significant change that: 

  • may be a natural function of market saturation; 
  • reflects the anxiety people feel when using the internet and social media. 

According to the report, more and more users are actively avoiding the news, especially about difficult topics like politics, and many people believe that media coverage is too negative, repetitive, and untrustworthy, making people feel powerless. 

Trend 2: Constructive journalism and value communication 

As the survey shows, readers express the need to read severe and complex topics but from a broader perspective and with positive overtones. The authors of the report point to the need for a stronger narrative on climate issues – better informing and engaging people on this pressing topic.

In general, the report highlights the following issues: 

  • less enthusiasm for “solution journalism” (73%) in favour of explanatory journalism – pointing to solutions rather than just identifying the problem (94%); 
  • the need to increase the number of positive stories (48%); 
  • too continuous and slow pace of describing climate change; 
  • lack of specialists among journalists who competently explain the specifics of changes related to global warming; 
  • the need for a higher value of expert reports and analyses. 

You can read about examples of constructive journalism created by some publishers and independent creators hereJak znajdować trendujące tematy? Narzędzia dla redaktorów i dziennikarzy.

Trend 3: Digital content in journalism 

It is no longer enough to own and operate websites by the media simply. With the explosion of new formats and channels, publishers can reach consumers faster and more compellingly. The widespread use of smartphones offers journalists opportunities beyond simple text and images, such as vertical video and podcasts. 

The rapid growth is mainly recorded in the form of short videos – a form of storytelling by journalists. It's also a way to reach an audience under 25 who have moved away from social media like Facebook and Twitter to TikTok and Instagram. 

According to the report, in 2023, publishers want to allocate the most resources to on-demand content, which they consider to be the best for building a bond with recipients and encouraging them to return.

Planned investments: 

  • podcasts and other digital audio content 72%;
  • newsletters – email newsletters 69%; 
  • digital video 67%. 

In addition:

  • voice applications, such as Siri, Alexa, etc., 14%; 
  • new metaverse applications, such as VR and AR, 8%. 

In 2023 “The New York Times” is launching its new audio product that promises to improve the idea of "reading reporters" significantly. Each story begins with a personal introduction by the reporter himself with some biographical material, which is then lightly illustrated, e.g. with a sound design or clip. This “human” approach is not easy to scale, but it responds to the disappointing results of stories read by synthetic voices on publisher sites and in languages other than English. 

Trend 4: Subscription – one of the primary income sources

In the face of general news overload, publishers are looking for more and more unique or specialised content that users can bundle with existing subscriptions or pay for separately. However, there are also limitations in subscriptions – the use of modern technologies can make journalism a “superservice” for wealthier and better-educated media users. Either way, what counts for readers is the quality of the content, which usually translates into satisfaction and, as a result, buying a subscription. 

According to the report, getting and keeping as many paying email newsletter subscribers as possible is becoming a high priority for publishers in terms of revenue (80%), ahead of display ads (75%) and native ads (58%). However, having diversified revenue streams is likely a general industry trend

Thanks to ready-made tools that do not require constant updates, email newsletters are perfect for creating quick content and earning money in a few clicks. These low-budget models provide a blueprint for future local media development. E.g. 

  • In the US, 6AM City and Axios Local are pioneering this approach, with 6AM City reaching approximately one million subscribers in more than 20 cities, with revenues of over $10 million in 2022. 
  • In the UK, independent local news outlets such as Manchester Mill, Liverpool Post and Sheffield Tribune reported an increase in the number of subscribers to their newsletters. 
  • Dedicated to the new work culture, the BBC's Worklife 101 brand now has almost 1.8 million subscribers, along with business publications such as Forbes. 

Trend 5: Incorporating AI into journalism 

The remarkable advances in AI in 2022 have opened up opportunities for publishers to deliver even more formats to help deal with channel fragmentation and information overload. Most significant newsrooms worldwide already use AI to streamline the editorial and production process. AI transcription tools and automatic tagging and subtitles are routinely used in newsrooms. 

According to the report, a breakthrough in the use of AI tools among creators, journalists and editors creating news is predicted in 2023. Among the survey respondents:

  • 23% say they regularly use AI to recommend content better; 
  • 5% make it a big part of their job; 
  • 67% use it to some extent. 

Over 80% of surveyed publishers say that AI technologies will become even more critical this year in the context of newsroom automation and better content recommendation.

AI is getting smarter, so a journalist's voice can be cloned with extreme accuracy. Aftenposten, one of Norway's most prominent news publications, recently cloned its podcast host's voice using AI; at the same time, South Africa's News24 trained its systems using the voice of a famous actor in its news and feature articles. 

At the same time, there are disturbing voices of debates about automation in journalism. Publishers fear synthetic media and content automation could commodify news and undermine audience trust. Ethical and regulatory dilemmas arise. As part of building trust in the positive uses of AI-powered technologies, publishers can be expected to define their own ethical guidelines. They may cover critical areas such as tampering, content clarity, photo fixes, or copyright law.

Examples of AI tools used in publishing industry

Examples of AI tools used in information organisations

Good Tape

A service built based on Open AI technology, developed by the Danish Zetland. It is used to transcribe speech into text. It is aimed at journalists and is designed to work with rarer languages not supported by large corporations' products.

Sofia

A tool by Globe and Mail in Canada that automates most websites in that country. Enables editors' time to be used more productively; increases click-through rates by 17%. It also manages tasks related to social media distribution, such as optimising headlines and choosing the best time to publish.

The Newsroom 

It uses AI to automatically identify and write summaries of the day's top news stories. It is also used to gather context and provide links to related articles grouped by political perspective. 

Publishing industry trends – summary 

There will likely be an explosion of automated or semi-automated media over the next few years – for better or worse. Research company, Gartner, estimates it will account for 25% of all internet data. Journalism will no longer depend only on whether publishers adopt digital technology but on how quickly they transform digital content to meet readers' expectations.

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