World News Publishers Outlook 2017: Executive Summary

Nel, Francois Pierre orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4378-9171 and Milburn-Curtis, Coral (2017) World News Publishers Outlook 2017: Executive Summary. Discussion Paper. World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), Frankfurt / Paris.

[thumbnail of World News Publishers Outlook 2017: Executive Summary]
PDF (World News Publishers Outlook 2017: Executive Summary) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.


Official URL:


Leaders of news media firms worldwide are pressured to innovate. To keep on keeping on the same track, while technology platforms evolve, advertisers’ options increase and audience preferences change around you, is not a realistic option. But shifting focus carries significant risks, and the rewards are uncertain. Deciding what to change and how to go about changing it is certainly not straightforward. So, just how are news media managers tackling the challenge? To find answers, the Innovation Research Group and WAN-IFRA again surveyed executives at member organisations in 10 languages. Responses to the 7th annual study conducted over the third quarter of 2016 came from nearly 250 decision-makers in 65 countries across six continents. The majority (82 per cent) are at organisations that are in private hands, while 6 per cent worked in government-owned media firms and 4 per cent were in public service organisations without direct political control.
By far the largest group of respondents, 43 per cent, sit in C-suites, serve on boards, or own their companies. Other responses came from editorial, commercial, and technology managers, as well as from a very small number (2 per cent) of consultants and academics (the methodology is detailed below).
Whatever their company profile, however, they are involved, and wherever they are based, most of those surveyed agree that the single biggest risk to their organisation’s success is not the loss of advertising revenues – though 65 per cent report traditional advertising income declines and many fret about their financial futures. “Not diversifying our revenue sources from the traditional print advertising into TV and digital advertising models,” said an editorial manager from Kenya. “Business Model sustainability over the next years,” is the biggest concern of a senior executive from Brazil. Technology platforms aren’t the respondents’ primarily worry either – though they are troubled by the power search and social media companies have on how content is discovered, as well as the roles of platforms and advertising exchanges in how income is delivered. “Where people consume news – social media/ other web,” was the top concern of an editorial manager from the United Kingdom. “Loss local advertising to Google & Co.,” said a top manager from Germany. Political instability isn’t their No 1 concern either – though some fear the actions of elected and unelected politicians. “Political polarization,” said an editorial manager from Malta. “Prosecution for criticizing the government,” said an editorial manager from Russia. “Brexit,” said a technology manager from the United Kingdom. Indeed, the respondents to this year’s survey do not see any single external factor as posing the greatest threat to their businesses. Instead, they are most anxious about what was going on inside their organisations. News media executives worldwide say the single biggest risk to their future success is this: their organisation’s reluctance to innovate. “Habits [are] changing faster than we can innovate,” answered an editorial executive from the United States. “The biggest risk is that senior management does not make decisions quickly,” said an editorial manager from Bolivia. They are right to be concerned.
Our study participants expect that their firms will need to radically change their business models if they are to meet future expectations. And there is no time to waste. Seventy per cent say that over the next 12 months up to 30 per cent of their income should come from non-traditional media activities (i.e. other than content sales and advertising) if they are to reach their financial goals. That figure flips exactly when we asked for their medium-term outlook. Seven out of 10 respondents expect that over the next five years more than 30 per cent of their firm's income will need to come from diverse revenue streams if they are to be successful.

Repository Staff Only: item control page