The business models to support a prosperous future for news media


I believe the media industry has a prosperous future. Today at the fabulous humAIn conference by Unmade I made that case in the concluding “debAIt”, arguing strongly against the proposition “AI is news media’s extinction level event”.

What this debate really boils down to is the business models for news media.

A key point beyond the extinction or survival of the industry is its diversity, especially in whether it can extend beyond a handful of major conglomerates and mastheads globally.

Subscriptions have finally proven to be a sustainable model for some major players, plus an increasing range of niche players, often at a micro-scale. Yet they are largely not working for hyperlocal and many mid-sized news brands.

The recent News Corp – OpenAI deal for potentially $250m+ over five years sounds promising, but likely few media organizations will be able to cut these deals.

Media related to buying decisions in verticals such as travel, healthcare, technology, real estate, finance, automotive, fashion will always have associated revenue streams. However these may not directly support quality news.

In a world of misinformation people want a source of truth. In whatever way this is provided, this is in essence news media. If people value that, which they increasingly will, then there will be business models around it.

It has long struck me that media provides essential input to almost every decision we make, ranging across how we vote, where we live, the jobs we get, the investments we make, and how we lead teams and organizations in changing times.

The value in making better decisions is immense. Media companies have an opportunity to go further, assisting better decisions rather than simply providing inputs.

The reality is that we can’t anticipate the successful media business models of the future. It will take experimentation to discover what will work in a world in which AI is swiftly changing the landscape.

However I believe that the many brilliant people in the media industry will uncover the models that will prove to be successful, providing high-value trustworthy news and information to us all long into the future.