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How the creator economy is shaping the future of journalism

Social media and content platforms are no longer just a place for makeup tutorials, shopping hauls, and cat videos… According to recent polls, it’s now where half of all adults get their news. 

Stuart Meczes

Social media and content platforms are no longer just a place for makeup tutorials, shopping hauls, and cat videos… According to recent polls, it’s now where half of all adults get their news. 

This comes at a time when many mainstream publishers are struggling to stay afloat. Two local news outlets went under per week throughout 2022. Even fresh, online-first publications haven’t been spared, with Buzzfeed News shutting down and Vice News filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

But far from spelling the death of journalism, this shift marks a key moment in its evolution - one that the industry would be wise to pay attention to.

The rise of the influencer journalist

Gone are the days when a select number of mainstream media outlets had the monopoly on people's news consumption. Social media has lowered the barriers to entry and removed the traditional gatekeepers. Nowadays, people are even losing trust in mainstream publications and instead turning to more informal and entertaining news formats delivered by their favorite creators on social media. 

When Sophia Smith Galer, a former Vice and BBC reporter, first started posting on TikTok, a senior colleague asked why she’d joined a platform that has “so much misinformation”. Her reply? “There’s so much misinformation because you aren’t on it. We [journalists] have to saturate this space.” Her TikTok videos – which report the news, share personal stories, get in on “trends”, and everything in between – have now commanded 16 million views.

She’s one of the many influencer journalists to have emerged – and thrived – with the evolving media landscape. Another is Dylan Page, who covers the day’s top news stories for his 10 million TikTok followers with a neon “News Daddy” sign glowing in the background. Or online news trailblazer, Philip DeFranco, who started posting “newsie type stuff” on Youtube way back in 2006. 

Despite each having their own unique style and voice, these creators share one thing in common: expertly combining journalistic rigor with a relatable, trustworthy, friend-like presence… and it’s won them a loyal following. 

Legacy media outlets are catching on

Around half of the world’s top media publications now use TikTok. But that’s not the same as being relevant on the platform. Social media users prefer to get their news from “personalities” — the “News Daddies” of the world — rather than mainstream news accounts. 

In a bid to win over younger audiences, Reach, the UK’s largest news publisher, recently announced plans to lay off 10% of its journalists and replace them with social media influencers. It’s clear that news organizations are waking up to the fact that the old guard doesn’t get to define the rules of journalism anymore. 

But as this new wave is ushered in, will talent be fairly compensated for their hard work and the value they bring? The average American journalist currently earns just $49,082 per year – far below the overall US average salary of $61,220

Now, there’s an opportunity for journalists to finally command the pay they deserve by branching into the $250B+ creator economy. But those looking to make it big on social media should beware of the flaws in the system that can stack up against even the most talented and hardworking creators. 

In a space like journalism, earning via promoted content – a main source of income for many creators – may present an additional challenge if it comes at the expense of journalistic integrity. In a way, influencer journalists must wear even more hats than the average creator to ensure that their work is relevant, entertaining, informative, and rigorous. 

Factual news or lots of views? At Contnt, you don’t have to choose

We built Contnt to help all creators thrive. Our subscription-based model empowers creators to publish what’s important to them and their audience, without having to rely on brand partnerships for income. 

We provide opportunities to learn the tricks of the trade and upskill via educational workshops. We’re leveling the playing field with spotlight equality, so creators can monetize from day one, and our unrivaled royalties mean that you’ll be compensated fairly. 

Whether you’re a journalist trying your hand in the creator economy, or a social media native branching into journalism, Contnt is the place to break the news, learn, earn, and grow.

So join the Contnt revolution by subscribing and securing your handle today!