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.

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

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

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

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

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

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

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

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

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

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

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

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

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

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

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

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

Trushar Barot   API or die

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward