26th September 2023
Future of Journalism Conference 2023: Our Key Takeaways

Earlier this month, Impress was delighted to attend the Future of Journalism Conference, hosted at Cardiff University.

For two days, we immersed ourselves in stimulating talks, debate and collaboration regarding the problems and opportunities facing the industry, such as the trust crisis and the future of local journalism.

We were also excited to present the industry-first findings of our News Literacy Report as we seek to continue to build trust in the industry between the public and journalists.

In the wake of the conference, we look back on the key takeaways from our two days in south Wales and what could be coming up in the future.

An authentic identity for local news

A session on working conditions for journalists was opened by Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, who discussed the unique and important role of local journalists in contributing to the communities of their patch.

Partly brought on by recent crises in journalism, as Wahl-Jorgensen told us, today’s “local news entrepreneurs” are focused on engaging with communities and documenting the lived experiences of ordinary people, motivated by a “democratic impulse”, and directly challenge conventional focuses on elite groups.

So when the right conditions allow for local journalism to fulfil its potential, this provides an invaluable service for communities and allows citizens for more localised, direct forms of democratic participation.

Many others at the conference were discussing the role of physical presence in journalism, with scholars stressing the importance of journalism that is engaged with the communities it reports and impacts on. As digital tools evolve at rapid pace, creating numerous risks and opportunities in the process that require cross-sector solutions, there is a keen sense amongst many in the journalism community of maintaining a focus on, first and foremost, people.

Trust in news

A session on trust in news was highly attended and hosted a vibrant discussion on the merits and qualities in news trust research.

The session featured a closing presentation by Impress CEO Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana on the findings of 2022’s News Literacy Report, as well as a talk by Professor Julie Firmstone, of the University of Leeds, on the extensive public engagement research on audience expectations in journalism, carried out alongside Professor John Steel of the University of Derby in partnership with Impress.

Clear throughout the presentations was the wealth of nuance and depth when it comes to how we define trust in journalism, and how we can appropriately measure the different levels at which it influences news behaviours.

Changing news use and news avoidance

Another issue made clear in 2022’s News Literacy Report, and throughout other studies, is that news use is changing. Whilst aspects of traditional and legacy media remain intact, there is a clear social shift occurring towards increased use of digital news platforms. This change is particularly evident in many young people’s news behaviours and attitudes.

This shift, however, is not accompanied by a particularly strong sense of trust or belief in the integrity of emerging news practices. So, while news use is changing, some researchers are exploring news avoidance and other public adaptations to toxic news environments that risk undermining news integrity, trends discussed by several scholars during a session on news use, chaired by Professor Richard Tait of Cardiff University.

Elsewhere, in a session on the role of media platforms, scholars discussed the infrastructural and divergent roles of platforms as key news distributors, with some touching on the role that regulation will play in years to come.

Journalism studies grows into the 21st century

The second day’s keynote speech by Professor Jane Singer, of City University London, covered a broad history of journalism studies and how it has grown over time alongside a number of adjacent academic fields.

Singer claimed that “the future comes apace” in journalism studies, using her critical lens of its history to provide some guidance for the future. As well as decentring its focus from the Global North and broadening its scope across the globe, there is an increasing demand, evident across the field, for greater attention on the role of news audiences in journalism studies.

Ultimately, as with the importance of local news, declining trust in news, and the rapid pace of change in news use behaviours, the crises faced in journalism today will come down to wide-ranging collaboration and partnerships across the industry and society that focus on bridging the gap between audiences, news producers, and journalists. Through this, we can develop solutions that work for everyone.


If you’re an academic and you would like to partner with Impress, please contact tanmaya@impressorg.com. If you’d like to learn more about Impress’ News Literacy Report and our public engagement research, please contact hamish@impressorg.com.

About Impress 

Impress is a champion for news that can be trusted. We are here to make sure news providers can publish with integrity; and the public can engage in an ever-changing media landscape with confidence. We set the highest regulatory standards for news, offer education to help people make informed choices and provide resolution when disputes arise. 

Media enquiries

Louie Chandler: louie@impressorg.com / 02033076778