We Just Entered the Most Critical Decade For the News & Information Industry

This is why journalism must evolve into becoming an “Information Science”

1. The pandemic forced many news organizations to innovate how they use technology, rethink how they manage remote staff and make sense of huge amounts of complex information. Covid also demonstrated the importance of tracking data in real-time and making it a central reference for all reporting!

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2. The sad reality is that the frequency of how often pandemics occur will only accelerate with climate change, which means newsrooms will need to be at least 10x more efficient in how they collect data — or risk their very own survival.

3. As temperatures rise and the global population grows to 8.5 billion by 2030, humans will live in closer proximity with wild animals that put us at risk of covid-like diseases.

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4. Floods will lead to an increase in the number of people getting sick from infectious diseases spread by mosquitoes including Malaria and Dengue — even in regions that are not currently affected by these maladies.

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5. Diarrheal disease will be rampant in areas where water has been contaminated as a result of extreme precipitation patterns, extreme rainfall events, and seasonal variations.

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6. Finally, as ice melts we will come in contact with soil that has been frozen for 1000s of years, and it is in the realm of possibility that ancient viruses and bacteria could emerge.

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7. What does all of this have to do with journalism? Public officials, organizations and individuals all rely on information to make decisions. The faster we can source information and contextualize it, the more time we have to prepare, evaluate and mitigate risks.

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8. For newsrooms and information companies of all types to survive in the next decade, they will need to reinvent news gathering and to develop real-time baselines for tracking the health of people, places and the planet. Right now a lot of this data is still collected manually and even managed in spreadsheets…

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9. Solutions include: leveraging AI to make sense of large amounts of scientific publications and deployment of sensors to directly collect data from the field. Incorporating satellite observations is an also a new concept for epidemiologists that can be applied to journalism.

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10. Deep collaboration between journalists and experts will be crucial for the future of news. Undoubtedly, journalism must evolve into becoming “information science”!

Author’s note: for more on how AI is changing and journalism, check out “Newsmakers: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Journalism”.

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Written by

Computational journalist and co-founder of Applied XL. I write about data science, storytelling and innovation.

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