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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Making people proud of what they share

“The emotional connection we build with human beings will always be stronger than one with any network or brand logo.”

Substance is viral

Quality will be rewarded in 2013. There will be a renewed focus on longform digital storytelling of the sort you’re already seeing at companies like Vox Media and ProPublica. My boss, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff, touched on this in a post on LinkedIn titled, “Substance Is Viral: The Rise of High Value Digital Journalism and Storytelling,” and the most important takeaway is that “Consumers want to be proud of what they share.”

Lists and quick takes have a place in 2013, just as 30-minute sitcoms and dramedies will always have a place on television. They make you feel good. But there will always be a demand for a higher level of content that makes you think, react, and reflect on a deeper level. It’s fun to watch shows like “Revenge” and “Vegas,” but they’re not rewarding or challenging the way shows like “Mad Men” or “Homeland” are. This second category of shows inspires real conversation, debate, and introspection, and ultimately, we like to talk about that much more. There is a place for both “Revenge” and “Mad Men” in a 2013 world, and they both matter — but only one will really stay with us.

A focus on personalities

Twitter personalities are the new morning television anchors. The days of waking up and getting the news from Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” are long gone. Now the news begins before you turn on the TV, and the delivery mechanism, your smartphone, is the first thing you check when you wake up. Broadcast anchors like Katie and Matt have been replaced by your personally curated go-to Twitter feeds — the people you rely on for the news. Best of all, it’s 24-hour programming. Take someone like Andrew Sullivan who has built a media empire off his name. He has a following that travels with him from his Twitter feed to The Daily Beast to television hits and beyond.

The biggest change in this focus on personalities is that people no longer need establishment news organizations behind them in order to build a following or credibility. It’s not about whom you work for — it’s about who you are and what you’ve built. Social media has given us a new lens into the lives of the people we get our news from, which allows the individual to stand alone. The emotional connection we build with human beings will always be stronger than one with any network or brand logo.

Callie Schweitzer is director of marketing and special projects for Vox Media. Previously she was deputy publisher at Talking Points Memo.