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The landscape of news and media consumption is set for a rapid transformation under the dual impact of advancing technological innovations and shifting viewer preferences, according to a report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The study throws light on an array of concerns ranging from the use of Artificial Intelligence in news production to the rise of news influencers on platforms like TikTok, all of which have far-reaching implications for the future of journalism.

The deepening distrust among audiences towards the use of AI in generating news content, particularly on sensitive subjects such as politics, emerges as one of the critical findings. A significant proportion of respondents indicated discomfort with AI-driven news production – 52% in the U.S. and an even higher 63% in the UK.

These apprehensions are fuelled, in part, by the rising fears of misinformation and fake news spread through digital platforms. The concern about false news content has seen an uptick by 3 percentage points from the previous year, with an alarming 59% of respondents voicing their worries.

Amidst such heightened mistrust and apprehension, the willingness to pay for news subscriptions appears to be dwindling. The report reveals that only 17% of respondents across 20 countries are open to paying for online news. This poses not only an economic challenge but also strikes a critical blow to the perceived value of credible, professional journalism.

In an intriguing development, individual personalities and ‘news influencers’ are dramatically reshaping how news is consumed, especially among younger audiences, edging out traditional journalists and news brands. The study revealed that as many as 57% of TikTok users accord more attention to these influencers than to conventional news outlets. Interestingly, this trend is even more stark in the U.S, where the top-followed personalities are known primarily for their political commentary rather than original newsgathering.

The report underscores the pressing need for newsrooms to build direct and meaningful relationships with their viewers to ensure their survival and relevance in this rapidly-evolving media landscape. This strategic move involves harnessing popular platforms to engage younger audiences and making a concerted effort to deliver news that is both trustworthy and engaging.

The future of journalism certainly cuts an exciting picture, replete with challenges and opportunities. The advent of AI in newsrooms, the rising dominance of news influencers, the escalating wariness over fake news, and the continued debate on subscription models — all these trends will redefine the contours of journalistic practices and consumption patterns.

As newsrooms acclimatize to these tectonic shifts, one thing remains clear — that the future of journalism, underscored by trust, viewer engagement, and the strategic use of technology, stands at an intriguing junction. Whether it would lead us to a more informed society or deepen the existing chasms of misinformation, only time will tell.