The Need for Authenticity and Inclusivity in the Media

The Need for Authenticity and Inclusivity in the Media

We’re calling it now: 2019 will be the year of new voices. In 2018, younger generations have been the force behind social movements and social change.

Gen Z, in particular, refuses to settle for the status quo — and they represent about 25 percent of the population. With younger generations being the driving force behind social media and digital trends, we can expect their behavior to support and drive home the inclusivity of different people, voices, and opinions in the media (and all other walks of life for that matter).

We’re used to seeing some variation in the stories of familiar characters — educated people or families that are relatively well off. We’re so used to these stories, in fact, that any well-told story that strays from the norm and manages to get seen by the larger population is instantly declared revolutionary or considered ahead of its time. To be fair, these adjectives are generally true for these less-common stories that “make it,” but should it be that way?

Recent trends in storytelling indicate that we’re no longer settling for simple variations of stories of the same personas’ lives. Independent media outlets like YouTube, Soundcloud, and Medium have opened doors for the expression of diverging opinions and little-known stories featuring unfamiliar characters. These outlets aren’t just popular among artists, but also among their audiences, specifically younger generations. Millennials prefer YouTube 2x more than television and 37 percent of the coveted 18-34 demographic are binge-watching on the YouTube.

Some mainstream media sources have caught on, and in the coming years, we’re expecting the media to provide even more representation of varying cultures and communities — and not just within the US, but across the world. We’re seeing more range in the people represented by characters in box office hits, more diversity in roles for shows and movies produced by streaming services, and even more range in the types of characters and cultures represented in national bestsellers. Some of note include "Black Panther," "Crazy Rich Asians," "To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before," and "The Hate U Give."

These trends toward more authenticity and inclusivity have seamlessly made their way into Storyblocks’ creative community. When we took a look back at our search trends from 2018, we saw an increase in searches related to diversity, and we’re anticipating a larger demand for diverse content in 2019. On Storyblocks Video, searches for “African” are up 176 percent, “elderly” are up 121 percent,  “Islamic” are up 185 percent, and “Asian” are up 49 percent, and that’s not even including more specific searches related to these groups and others. On Storyblocks Audio, searches for “Japanese,” “Arabic Instrumental,” and “African Vocal” among many similar searches are all up by more than 100 percent from last year.

Industry threats like Facebook’s privacy issues and fake news running rampant have made 2018 a tumultuous year. With the combination of thriving independent media outlets making our world a smaller place and the growing force of younger generations that are passionate about authenticity and inclusivity, we’re expecting creators and businesses to move toward authentic self-expression. Furthermore, the creators and brands that don’t embrace authenticity and inclusivity as a core part of their being will fall out of favor in 2019.

With authenticity being the driving trend of 2019, we can expect more creators with different backgrounds and points of view to enter the creative space and rise in popularity. New voices with different opinions will be embraced on podcasts and YouTube. Content showing off different cultures, lifestyles, and traditions around the world will not only be produced by amateur stock media contributors, but it will also rise in usage. We’re looking forward to growing and working with our team of contributors to source the content and be a part of the move toward a future of more diverse storytelling in the media.

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Andy Barnham's picture

Interesting results in regards to the search results. I, for one, salute any outlet independent from the long arms of the (Zuckerberg) Empire. I’ll also be interested to see if diversity becomes a trend and if so, who will be behind it? Will Generation X, who you state are a driving force behind social media, stay faithful to platforms who’ve shown themselves to be self serving liars when it comes to data? I certainly believe, in the ongoing quest to maximise users, data and profits, content on FB and IG is becoming homogenous. Just look at IG’s recent ‘feature’ allowing regrams to multiple accounts which I’m sure will see ever increasing amount of accounts look the same.

Deleted Account's picture

Assigning motivation to behavior is never a good thing. I don't doubt your data or the practical implications for business but nobody knows why someone, unfamiliar to you, does what they do.

michaeljin's picture


mlittle's picture

Yea I think they call that tyranny

michaeljin's picture

If you have time to worry about this stuff when it doesn't directly affect you, you have time to be making more money or spending more time with your family.

David Crossley's picture

<We're calling it now 2019 will be the year of new voices>

I'm calling it now, 2020 will be the year of new voices. Remember where you heard it first, lol.

David Pavlich's picture

My question is this: Have the parties involved looked up the word 'inclusive' in their Oxfords? That's a really difficult word to get around. Wisdom guided by experience tells me inclusiveness is a fleeting concept these days in most cases becoming a one way street.

Elan Govan's picture

Ironic really isn't it? I thought we did all the diversity stuff during the Woodstock years, and yet it is back in vogue again except we are using different words to make it more palatable.

All it means is, unlike yesteryear, they are educated and have lots of disposable income to spend and guess who is being encouraged to "suck it up and be nice".

Unlike Woodstock, it is all money talk.

Deleted Account's picture

Screw diversity, social media, and the rest of the select consciousness you espouse. Photographers should just go out and make the images they like. Period.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

It’s very easy to say “screw diversity” when not part of a marginalized group. Photography can only benefit from more inclusion and more voices joining the party.

Here's why it's important in photojournalism:

Deleted Account's picture

I'm for anyone "joining the party" if you mean "doing photography". When I say "screw diversity" I am saying no one should care about including this minority or that sex. People like you who care about this ignorant concept of diversity want to manage the practice of making images and control whose images are given exposure to the public. So many from blacks, so many from women, so many from homosexuals, etc. etc. Let's just let everyone do their thing, Wasim, and look after their own business. Having people like you who want to manage "the party" is an insult to the party-goers. We don't need your help.

Scott Wardwell's picture

The demographics of the creator means dick to me. How good is their final product is what matters. Don't blame me if only white guys are hitting it out of the park. We are a lot more welcoming than we get credit for.

Darnell Wilburn's picture

Your comment is trash and couldn't be further from the truth.

Scott Wardwell's picture

A little too nuanced for you? I was wondering when the perpetually- aggreived diversity- centric race baiters would stick their heads out of the slime.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

I forecast snowflakes....

B C's picture

Man, someone went overboard on the eye whitening in the lead photo.