Building a coherent core identity

“Our consumers know us by the design choices we make, the frequency and character of our push alerts, what we do on social, how we monetize, how we market, and which technologies and platforms we choose to pursue.”

The last few years have been a hell of a ride for people who sit at the intersection of news and technology. We’ve expanded to new platforms. We’ve experimented with new devices. We’ve tried new storytelling concepts and found ways to leverage our communities for good.

julia-beizerThe bigger! better! faster! more! thrill of it all is exhilarating — and gives me a lot of hope for all of the avenues for news in the brave new world. But lately, I find myself drawn back to the homefront, focused on one question:

How can I bottle our core identity as a brand and have its essence shine through all of our experiences, off-platform and on?

Voice was once solely an editorial endeavor. Decisions about what to cover and how to cover it defined a news organization’s identity. But today, what we have to say is only one part of who we are. Our consumers know us by the design choices we make, the frequency and character of our push alerts, what we do on social, how we monetize, how we market, and which technologies and platforms we choose to pursue.

These aren’t just product, distribution, or strategy decisions. Together, all of these add up to our identity, our voice in the world where our consumers find us. For too many years, these very real choices were afterthoughts in a lot of news organizations, decisions we made passively when we couldn’t resource some opportunity or another.

In 2017, let’s own these choices actively. It’s time to center ourselves on what we want our unique organizations to be and how we aim to serve our audiences. We have years of experimentation at our backs and the wisdom to know the game will keep changing. But a coherence of identity throughout all of the decisions we make will help our brands mean something in the minds of our audiences. Meaning something is the first step to being vital. And being vital is essential if we want our voices to endure.

Julia Beizer is head of product at The Huffington Post.

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

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

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

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

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

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

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

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

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

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

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

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

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Trushar Barot   API or die

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Mario Garcia   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

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

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

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

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition