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How we developed the scenario’s

This study was conducted using the scenario methodology developed by Shell and the Global Business Network. We developed four scenarios through an interactive process of online sessions and interviews with more than 60 experts, scientists and journalism educators from within and outside the sector. The following phases were completed:

  1. Identifying important questions
    What does the sector want to know about journalism in 2035? What questions do editors-in-chief, journalists, educators and policy makers want answered? The online session yielded more than 30 questions, which were summarised in the eight big questions we answered with the study for each scenario. Read the major questions here.
  2. Identifying trends
    What are the (potential) social, technological, economic, ecological and political trends could influence journalism in 2035? During three trend conferences we mapped all of these trends together with experts from within and outside the sector. Participants contributed trends and indicated whether they thought it was certain or uncertain that a particular trend would continue. This resulted in more than 400 trends, which were then clustered into 72 trends (35 certain; 37 uncertain).
  3. Weighting the trends
    Using an online weighting, trend conference participants indicated which certain and uncertain trends they thought would have the most impact. Together the top 8 of most impactful trends determine the framework of the year 2035, in which the four scenario could become reality. The top 8 uncertain trends form the basis of the chosen axes and the four scenarios. You can find the list of trends here.
  1. Identifying critical uncertainties: the coordinate system

    Two critical uncertainties have been defined on the basis of the impactful uncertain trends. They determine whether or not the uncertain trends will persist.

    – To what extent are tech companies and data effectively regulated?
    – To what extent do citizens trust each other?

    These two uncertainties are then plotted on a coordinate system with the horizontal axis representing citizens’ trust in one another (from distrust on the left to complete trust on the right). The vertical axis represents data and technology regulation (from no regulation at the top to effective regulation at the bottom). This results in four quadrants in which the four scenarios can be plotted. More information on critical uncertainties and the coordinate system can be found here.

5. Developing the four scenarios
The four quadrants of the axis system form the context for the four scenarios. The scenarios are then fleshed out by thinking about the implications of the trends and uncertainties: how do the critical uncertainties interact, what does this mean for whether or not the uncertain trends will continue? What kind of world does this lead to and what does it mean for journalism? This is how the four scenarios take shape.

6. Answering the important questions
Using the four complete scenarios allows us to formulate answers to the four important questions that were established at the start of the process. The differences between the scenarios are fleshed out even further, which gives better and more relevant insight in what reality may look like should these visions of the future come true. The answers to the important questions for each of the four scenarios can be found here.


The following sources were consulted in developing the trends, defining the axes and creating the scenarios: