Stormy times are ahead for digital journalism, according to a recent Cxense study that found 78% of respondents were seriously concerned for the future of the industry.

The main fears include: poor quality of journalism, the spread of fake news, lack of funding of online media brands, and the decreasing number of newsrooms. Additionally, 83% of journalists believe their job security is poor, with just over half believing this is due to readers’ reluctance to pay for digital content.

The number and range of these concerns paints a bleak picture and makes it difficult to pinpoint one factor as the sole perpetrator of modern journalism’s decline. But there is a definite need to find more sustainable funding models to support short- and long-form quality content.

Another way to start addressing and rectifying some concerns raised by the study is to better utilise reader data to help build a better picture of a publisher’s audience and how they engage with articles.

Our research revealed that journalists are on board with technology influencing their role more. Journalists also believe data helps build closer relationships with readers, despite only one in five saying their newsrooms currently use data to deliver personalised content.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can help turn a publisher’s wealth of data on reader behaviour into actionable (and profitable) insights.

Tailoring content can drive reader engagement, increase dwell time, and increase pageview impressions, thus enabling publishers to generate higher advertising revenues without having to resort to tactics such as clickbait.

Speaking of clickbait, the study showed there is a clear belief ad revenue-based models favour this sort of short-form content (67% agree), while in comparison the subscription-based model favours long-form, quality journalism (84% agree).

These alternative business models (e.g. paywalls) are there to support the future of journalism. So, while some journalists (14% in the study) acknowledge paywalls as a necessary evil, they are viewed as necessary in future-proofing businesses, protecting credibility, and ensuring a journalist-centric approach while still driving revenue.

To build this sustainable model for the future of the industry, publishers and journalists must start working together to embrace data and personalisation and allow audiences to become more engaged and willing to subscribe to valuable digital content.