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Study predicts focus on subscription and face-to-face reporting in 2021

Nic NewmanJournalism researchers have predicted more news titles will move towards digital subscription models in 2021.

A study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford has found the idea of subscription and other reader-revenue models eventually working for most publishers is now the majority view among editorial chiefs across the world.

The study by senior research associate Nic Newman, pictured, has also predicted a comeback for face-to-face reporting this year.

Nic interviewed than 200 journalism and digital leaders from around the world for the study Рwith around a quarter of respondents being based in the UK.

Three-quarters of those asked said the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated their plans for digital transition, with a similar number agreeing that a drive towards digital subscriptions was now rated as an important or very important focus.

A total of 51pc of respondents agreed subscription and other reader-revenue models will eventually work for most news publishers – although the issue proved divisive, with 41pc disagreeing with the statement.

A total of 73pc said they were confident about their company’s prospects for the year ahead, although only 53pc said they were confident about the future of journalism – with respondents highlighting concerns including the financial sustainability of smaller and local publications.

Nic also speculated on what else “might surprise us” in 2021.

He wrote: “We can expect a thirst for face-to-face contact after a year of lockdowns and restrictions to movement.

“Real-life events are set to make a comeback this year as Zoom fatigue kicks in.

“Journalists will get out of the office more, freed by technology to deliver more face-to-face reporting, becoming more embedded in their communities.”