The developments which form the basis for the four scenarios

The basis for the scenario research is presented in five thematic trend meetings with 150 participants from inside and outside the sector. They discussed developments in the journalistic sector that they are currently seeing, and what developments they expect in the coming years. That produced a collection of certain and uncertain trends that form the basis of the four scenarios. Certain trends are trends which participants are sure will occur. Uncertain trends caused debate about whether or not they will occur. Below is a summary of the most important social, technological and journalistic trends. A full overview, including figures and references can be found in the research report.

Social trends

Currently, the government has retreated from many areas of society and is breaking away from many different tasks. The participants in the meetings expect this trend to continue. That means, for example, further cutbacks to public service broadcasting, which results in no more genres like sports, games and entertainment being presented. The further devolution of many government tasks to municipalities and provinces may increase the demand for well-established regional journalists.

The trust of citizens in government, media, business and NGOs is at rock-bottom in 2014. If this decline continues, it is expected that more citizens than ever will try to organise things and more small initiatives (do it yourself) will start. But if the trust is regained, large organisations will be able to continue to provide citizens with services and products (do it for me).


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Another major uncertainty is the future balance of power between governments and large, global internet companies. Governments try to protect citizens and businesses from the market power of internet companies. There is hardly any competition, and media and content creators are increasingly dependent on the network and algorithms of Google and Facebook. If the government fails to keep the power of the market in check, this will greatly affect the creativity and journalism sectors. The same goes for privacy protection: if the protection of consumer's private information is strengthened and consumers become more aware of what happens to their personal data, the digital landscape will look very different from the current, nonchalant attitude towards digital privacy.


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A growing gap throughout society is expected, which includes the different uses of media. Highly-educated people gather their news from multiple sources while low-skilled people consult just one or two sources. This gap reduces social cohesion.

Technological trends

Several technological developments will have a big affect on the journalistic landscape over the next decade. The breakthrough of smart devices (smartphones, tablets, smart watches etc.) has changed the way that news is consumed from passive to active: Users click, like and comment. This movement is continuing and the mobile internet is expected to grow by dozens of percentage points every year. The rise of social media ensures news arrives faster and, for journalists, Twitter and Facebook have become an integral part of their profession.

Increasing bandwidth results in more video streaming being uploaded and downloaded with increased speed. It also becomes easier to download, relatively heavy, virtual reality applications. The speed of mobile internet also continues to increase, making the live streaming of video to mobile devices to become cheaper.

The emergence of the internet of things will bring about a great deal of change. Ten years ago, one in ten people had a connected device (a device connected to the internet); however, in 2025, it is expected that there will be ten connected devices per person. Technology and the internet are all around you: news can be accessed on your watch, kitchen wall or car window. Devices can also fully communicate with each other, which provides new opportunities.

News and advertisements are personalised as a result of improved communication links between user profiles and GPS locations. Content can be tailored to your preferences and location. There is an increased number of smarter methods to collect data about users. Therefore, uncertainty surrounds the question of whether privacy will be a major social issue or whether consumers will even worry about it at all.

Journalistic trends

The disruption of revenue models for media organisations continues over the coming years. Advertising revenues for print media are expected to continue to decline. For television, advertising revenues are admittedly still stable, but the industry thinks it is only a matter of time before advertisers move away from this media as well. Unbundling continues: consumers do not read a whole newspaper but increasingly buy individual products and are no longer loyal to a brand.


News has always been offered in bundles: you buy a newspaper full of articles and supplements, or you watch a news broadcast with many different news items. Technological development makes it easier to offer individual stories: You can now buy a single article or watch one fragment of a talk show.

For individuals using media, especially young people, more and more are media 'snacking': they gather news with the least number of clicks from websites, apps and social media, rather than extensively reading the paper or watching the news. More and more media is also consumed simultaneously: when the family are sitting together watching television, they are also viewing an individual device at the same time.

Companies will have a growing influence on new media, participants from trend meetings expect. For example, think of journalists making stories for companies, the so-called branded journalism. Marketing departments will have more influence on editorial choices. More and more institutions and businesses spread journalistically written press releases. This will result in an increasing amount of discussion about the integrity and independence of journalism. Currently, trust in the media is already at a historic low. Journalists often appear to be concentrating on hard news, political scandals and riots, but the public does not always need this.

The role of journalism can therefore shift towards work that the public believes is more valuable. Examples of this include, facilitating dialogue and "service journalism"; making directly applicable information accessible.

The public will play a greater role in the journalistic process, but it is uncertain to what extent and shape. Citizens can contribute ideas during a news production and help sort through items. They may even bring their own issues into the newsrooms on a regular basis. But the trend could also strengthen to the point where citizens make and distribute news stories themselves.

Finally, it is uncertain whether traditional editors will be able to react quickly enough to the changing demands of readers and viewers, switching to digital strategies and experimenting with different revenue streams. Media organisations are inflexible and the result of the many cuts is that there is less strength and motivation to change. Yet, many participants are also hopeful about these movements in newsrooms, such as exploring new formulas and inviting scientists to share their insights and to think about the strategy.