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Journalism in the Metaverse

The Metaverse will impact all facets of our lives, not least our work and social lives. But it will also have a significant impact across all industries, from the extraction and production of raw material, to manufacturing, construction and service industries. Like the education, healthcare, restaurant and construction industries, journalism is likely to be impacted by the Metaverse and/or Metaverse technologies in the years to come.

To understand how the Metaverse, or Web 3.0, will impact journalism, it makes sense to look at the impact Web 2.0 has had on the profession. Web 2.0, which arrived around the mid 2000’s, was characterised by user-generated content, ease of use, and a participatory culture. The impact on journalism, particularly on printed media was unprecedented. Online news, once viewed as secondary to print, now dominates the news industry, every media outlet, newspaper or magazine now maintain websites, blogs, and podcasts. Today, the main aim of printed media is to direct as much traffic to these websites, blogs, and podcasts as possible in order to maximise advertising revenue.

Websites have been available to news organisations since the earliest days of the internet, so why the rapid move to web-based news in response to Web 2.0? The main reason for this was the massive increase in user-generated content. Web users who were previously unable to create their own news content were now able to via platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. For news organisations, this meant greater competition for people’s attention. Why would anyone wait for the morning news cycle when they could get near real-time updates on developing news stories on a constant 24/7 cycle?

Local newspapers have been particularly impacted by Web 2.0 and the move to online news. A recent report by the Charitable Journalism Project, led by Dr. Steven Barclay, from City, University of London's Department of Journalism, has found, among other things that: “Social media are now dominant in local news and information systems, used for a range of local information and communication functions as well as to access local news websites”, “Local newspapers are no longer perceived as ‘community glue’, holding community identity and collective emotion”, and “Local news providers are seen as repeating institutional lines by publishing press releases uncritically instead of reporting independently”.

So, how will Web 3.0, will impact journalism? Well if Web 2.0 made it hard for news organisations to capture and maintain people’s attention, Web 3.0 will make it nigh on impossible. A defining characteristic of Web 3.0 is the shift from content created by humans, to content created by machines. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the retrieval, transformation, and classification of data, will enable computers to generate new data, i.e., news stories, on the fly. Furthermore, they will be able to create multiple versions of any article, tailored and targeted to an individual’s reading and advertising preferences, in any format, or any type of immersive experience, at a near instantaneous and continuous rate. The Metaverse will allow you to experience new stories first-hand as they unfold, and augmented reality will allow you to quite literally follow the news. Rupert Murdoch, beware!

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Freddy Kearney/Unsplash

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