A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

“Democratized platforms have not always respected how much people crave expertise, even as they resent it.”

Sociologists are much better at describing than predicting. But it’s hard not to imagine the logical consequences of things already in motion.

tressie-mcmillan-cottomIn 2017, the legacy media’s legitimacy crisis will come to a head. The recent presidential election revealed what people have felt for some time: Media fragmentation and democratized platforms have undermined social trust in institutions. Politicos may argue about whether the left or right is in greater disarray, but the media will be as convicted as political bodies. Democratized platforms have not always respected how much people crave expertise, even as they resent it. Media that manages to inspire trust have a moment to capitalize on the “post-fact” landscape. Which leads me to my next assessment:

In 2017, the media who gets the “post-fact” media platform right will be the platforms that take diversity seriously. The impulse after this election is to double-down on heterogeneity and to eschew “identity politics,” a weaponized term that really just means people whose visible identities delimit their civil liberties. That impulse is short-sighted. Diverse newsrooms don’t just better understand racial, ethnic and sexual minorities. Diverse newsrooms better understand working-class whites, immigrants, and middle-class white elites. Diverse newsrooms have thinkers who can hold two competing ideas at the same time, and research shows that people from a variety of backgrounds that have different experiences of race, class, and gender best understand the nuances of white, middle-class normativity. The successful media platform in our post-fact reality will be a diverse media platform that challenges our assumptions smartly, inspiring trust again in media.

Tressie McMillan Cottom is assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a faculty associate of the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Trushar Barot   API or die

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Mario Garcia   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues