As futurists, we learn to be patient and take the long view. So, when something catches our attention, we catch our breath and compose. Because…..the 4th quarter tracking results of Futurists in Media reported 106 relevant hits, compared to 24 in the 4th quarter of 2015, which is a 341% increase if my math is right. Again, let’s not get carried away with a single data point. But is there a potential uptick of coverage of futurists in the media? Not enough data to say yet, but we’ll keep our eye on it.
A few other observations from the last year.
- In terms of who’s getting covered, most of the coverage is still related to press releases or articles about upcoming keynotes by futurists. Futurist speaker Jack Uldrich in particular continues to generate coverage, but there are many other keynotes being mentioned. Interestingly, organizational futurists continue to gain a lot of coverage. Ray Kurzweil of Google and Sheryl Connelly of Ford are by far the most prominently mentioned. (Of course, Kurzweil made his name well before Google.)
- It is interesting, but perhaps not totally surprising that relatively few APF members were mentioned. Doing project work is not likely to generate news headlines. APF member mentions were about the same as a category that we call “accidental” futurists, that is, when someone who does not identify as a futurist is called one by the writer/publisher of the story.
- The most heartening news. The coverage is overwhelming neutral to positive, which anecdotally speaking is a nice improvement. A little dust-up with the passing of Toffler, triggering the predictable “futurism is dead” story that seems to accompany the passing of famous futurists. And we even had a story about fewer sightings of futurists in “square quotes.” Of the 282 relevant hits last year, fewer than eight were judged to be negative, and only half of those were deliberately hostile towards futurists. Historically, there were far, far more negative and hostile stories.
We’ll keep tracking. Not quite enough data yet to make substantial conclusions, but starting to see some interesting developments. We published updates on the Houston Foresight blog pretty regular if this is of interest. – Andy Hines
About Futurists in Media
The Houston Foresight program launched the Futurists in Media project to track, collect and analyze mentions of futurists in the media. The goal is to gather evidence for how futurists are being talked about in the media. The initial idea for this project was suggested by APF member Natalie Ambrose in 2008.* In our Pro Seminar class, we have long been doing a module on coverage of futurists in the media that reviews a sample of articles about the field. We feel the time is right to launch a systematic effort here at the university, as it is more important than ever to the profession and we have a supply of capable students to do the work.