In 25 years’ time:
1. The gap between the gloom and doom endlessly debated by journalists and the happiness felt by the consumers of news will widen – at least in the short term. Consumers of news currently enjoy the proliferation of sources of news more than they worry about the accuracy or integrity of its source.
2. A credibility crisis will sooner or later remind people that not all sources of news are equally trustworthy. Most probably, an authoritarian or totalitarian will, by smart manipulation of a fashionable new digital platform, fool a lot of people. Well-known faces will be red.
3. A combination of the behaviour of red-top newspapers and worries about social networks will combine to increase pressure for new legislation on privacy. The politico-legal negotiations will be long and bad-tempered. But in the end we will have a new privacy law in Britain.
4. Journalism done in words will struggle to survive, given that audio and video are now so easy to create and consume on digital platforms. But words – capable of containing more complex ideas and meaning than broadcast – will survive and prosper.
5. Some newspapers will go bust. This is more likely to happen to daily papers than to weekend ones, let alone to magazines (which will go on flourishing) and fatalities are more likely to occur outside the M25. Predictions of doom for print may sometimes have been both premature and overdone, but the advertising model for daily papers has been fatally weakened by the fact that younger readers rarely acquire a regular paper-buying habit.
6. The next 25 years will be a period of extraordinary innovation and creativity in platforms, techniques and the wholesale rethinking of journalism. Data journalism and the creation of online communities are only just the start.
7. The 2010 drama of Wikileaks will be followed by governments all over the world shutting the stable door to prevent other horses leaving. The source for the biggest Wikileaks disclosures will go to prison for a long time. Leaks on the scale of two sets of warlogs and the US diplomatic cables may not occur again any time soon.
8. Transparency will improve journalism. Software is now available to spot plagiarism and, by extension, churnalism. Naming and shaming will occur and will gradually have an effect.
9. Journalism will remain glamorous and important to a minority and, to a much larger segment of the population, suspect, morally dubious and either controversial or disappointing.
10. People will regularly ask whether in a world in which anyone can publish instantly to anyone, anything called “journalism” is needed. They will discover that trying to discover and describe the truth is best done by people trained to do it well.
Professor George Brock is head of journalism at City University, a post he took up in 2009. Previous to this, Brock worked for The Times as a writer and editor for 28 years. He chairs the British committee of the British Press Institute and is a board member of the World Editors Forum. Brock also writes a regular blog, which you can read here
You can also read Paul Bradshaw’s predictions for the industry here