According to a recent report from Pew Research, social media has outpaced print newspapers as a news source in the U.S. The two were tied in Pew’s 2017 report, and news media had a slight advantage the prior year. This underscores how rapidly the news media landscape is evolving and how critical it is that all industry stakeholders innovate in order to remain relevant.

While this is the first year in which social media is a more popular news source than print, no one in the newspaper industry can be surprised at this finding. Many papers have been attempting to modernize for years, investing significantly in growing their online presence and monitoring data analytics to improve operations.

As a recent guest post on Value Walk put it, “Data is more than just information; it is a mindset that media projects of all shapes and sizes that must adopt to secure their longevity. In a competitive industry that has seen countless papers go under, local newspapers with a deep, data-driven understanding of their readership and content are the ones that will survive.”

Here are some examples of how a solid data strategy can benefit traditional publishers:

  • Customizing Content: Tailoring content recommendations to match audience interests keeps visitors on the site longer, enabling them to view more content and see more ads.
  • Selling Audiences: Collecting and acting intelligently on audience data from various sites and properties allows publishers to sell audiences rather than specific pages or site sections.

By taking into account these considerations, traditional news publishers can mount a strong defense against emerging news sources. However, there’s no denying social media’s growing popularity and a new and troubling challenge it poses: fake news.

This is another area in which data analytics can help. Sifting through the wealth of information on social media would be an impossibly difficult manual task, but automating this analysis and identifying patterns in the data can help Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms combat against the spreading of fake news.

Of course, the industry is a long way away from eradicating fake news, but with the right algorithms and data models we can begin to reverse its trajectory. And as social media continues to become a more popular news source, there could not be a more critical time to do so.