Maybe 2016 is the year we realize that what we’ve been describing as a great transition is actually the destination. The train stops here, in an unsettled landscape of layoffs and startups, disruption and experimentation, aggregation and disaggregation, clickbait masquerading as news and news dressed up as clickbait. We should resign ourselves to decades of instability, which in these days of diminishing attention spans is pretty close to a permanent condition. MediaWorld is, and will continue to be, a place characterized by a fragmenting and reclustering of audience, the blurring of the line between reporting (too much work!) and asserting (look what it did for Donald Trump!), and, not least, the quest for a dependable business model — the digital oligarch, the mission-driven nonprofit, the algorithmic popularity contest, or maybe some variation on FanDuel.
Bill Keller is editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project and former executive editor of The New York Times.