Mobile navigation


Opportunities & Threats: National News Media

What’s the outlook for national news media in 2024? Christian Broughton, CEO of The Independent, looks ahead.

By Christian Broughton

Opportunities & Threats: National News Media
Christian Broughton.

In the twelve years I’ve worked in digital journalism, I can’t remember the media pundits ever saying, ‘Relax – there are only blue skies ahead’. Yes, 2023 was a year of falling referrals from social media and major shifts in search algorithms, and, next year, we can expect headwinds from generative AI and the deprecation of third-party cookies. Forget Succession, you might say, this is starting to look more like Game of Thrones.

So, what to do? Start by connecting the age-old values of quality journalism with the fast-evolving ability for digital media to innovate.

An election year should be good news for publishers. After years of polarisation, the public wants truly independent journalism they can believe in. Extraordinary reporting generates extraordinary trust, along with huge audiences and deep engagement – combine these and you can start creating your own model for a business that empowers journalism, and journalism that empowers your business.

Media often focuses on subscription or advertising. At The Independent, we benefit from both these. But there is more on offer.

Trust our news and you’ll trust our reviews – so, following years of investment, it’s little surprise that ecommerce recommendations have become a major revenue-driver for us that’s growing fast, supported by first-party data and more than six million registered users. Consumers want advice in the hard times and the good.

Journalism has been at the heart of another great opportunity for 2024: Independent TV now creates award-winning documentaries, plus entertainment programming. We count 50 million minutes of high-quality video engagement on our site every month – and that’s before we get to TikTok, YouTube, and CTV platforms. It’s time to think beyond the KPIs of page views and unique users.

Let’s make a resolution to think big in 2024. This article is supposed to focus on national media, but the language you’re reading now is as relevant in Washington as it is in Westminster. Our former CEO, Zach Leonard, is moving to become our first ever President, North America, as we build the Independent brand – along with its TV and ecommerce potential – in the biggest media market of all. What’s more, AI can help to translate accurately and efficiently for audiences globally. The Independent already publishes in Spanish, Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu.

At the end of 2023, the Alex Springer deal with OpenAI may provide a template for others in the year ahead. The industry is right to be aware of the threats from AI, but – used wisely and with human safeguards – AI can free up time for reporting and creativity. From journalism to business ventures, there’s a lot to be done in 2024. We mere mortals should use all the tools we can.

This article was first published in the Publishing Partners Guide (PPG) 2024, which is published and distributed by InPublishing. You can register to receive InPublishing magazine here.