WRITERS. When the global marketing-communications agency JWT released its list of 100 Things to Watch in 2011, many items related to the ongoing digitization of content on various media platforms, mass customization, and the rise of microbusiness. According to the JWT report, “Books will take new forms, entertainment will go transmedia, and journalists will become entrepreneurial.”
Writers can use the JWT list as a rich source of cutting-edge story ideas. But several items on the list suggest new formats for publishing content as well as new types of clients for freelance writing.
Here are a few of the items on the list that caught my eye. (You can download the complete 110-page report from www.JWTIntelligence.com)
Breaking the Book
Now that the market for e-books has taken off, JWT expects to see a rethinking of the book format. For example, we might see an iTunes-like market for single chapters of travel guides, anthologies, or textbooks. Professional writers will be encouraged to fill the niche between magazine articles and books. And, we might also see more serialized works through apps that send subscribers a chapter a week.
JWT predicts a rise in the number of children’s e-books for color-enabled screens, such as the iPad and Nook Color. These dynamic storybooks will enable children to switch from text to educational games and graphics. The JWT report notes that “Traditional children’s publishers such as Random House and HarperCollins have jumped on the bandwagon, as have startups.” Ruckus Media expects to have 26 children’s e-book apps in 2011, with 75 more in the works.
The next generation of journalists is being trained to launch their own enterprises by pulling together traditional journalism with business and technology. For example, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York is offering a two-year master’s program in which students can study media across all platforms: digital, broadcast, and print. Courses in the program focus on the business of managing media and the study and creation of new media business models. The school also offers a certificate in entrepreneurial journalism for midcareer journalists who have worked in the traditional, mainstream media and understand they need new skills.
As blog posts and news items have shrunk to fit our attention spans, JWT trendspotters believe the novelty of long-form journalism will stand out and more readers will turn to mobile devices, e-readers, and computers to access it. JWT cites innovations such as Longform.org, Longreads, Instapaper, and Treesaver.
As consumers look for a personal connection to brands, expect to see more companies play up the people and stories behind their products. It could be everyday employees, the people who produce the ingredients, or the owners of small businesses.
Transmedia is defined as “the art of communicating messages, themes, and story lines to mass audiences through the strategically planned use of multiple transmedia platforms.” The Producers Guild of America describes the job of transmedia producer as overseeing a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and the creation of original storylines for new platforms.
Because so many items on the JWT list seemed techno-centric, I was pleased to see that JWT’s director of trendspotting Ann Mack expects a bit of a backlash against all things digital. She notes that “To balance our growing immersion in the digital world, people will increasingly embrace face-to-face gatherings and digital downtime.”
Digital downtime is described as “mindful breaks from digital input, intended to relieve stress and foster creativity.”