Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

“What is news, and what is noise? Do both deserve the same amount of attention?”

In the mad rush for platformization, attention metrics, social journalism (when has journalism not been social, by the way?), and datafication, journalism forgot its conscience at home. In hot pursuit of elusive clicks and eyeball economics, journalism left substance behind. In the midst of lists and gifs designed to attract attention, journalism neglected to take a long, critical look inward.

zizi-papacharissiOne of the casualties was an election season that did not receive the news coverage it deserved. Several other casualties will follow, as important issues like climate change, social injustices, economic inequalities, healthcare, education, and international affairs are covered to the beat of the byte instead of the steady and thoughtful rhythm of the newsroom. Several newspapers changed the tone of their coverage post-election, in an effort that read more like a knee-jerk reaction and less like a fully considered paradigm shift. The truth is, no matter how news covers the election and other important issues, it does not matter. There is a growing majority that does not pay attention to the news. And, there is a growing majority that does not trust reporters as news storytellers.

Technology is a gift for journalists. Mobile and social media afford ways to bridge the growing gap between journalists and several forgotten publics. Technology is not here to generate revenue for newsrooms. It is here to help journalists forge civic connections with communities that were left behind as small newspapers closed and media coverage became centralized.

In the battle for clickbait headlines, journalism lost its spine. It is time for journalism to a take time out for introspection — to ask who we are, who we want to be, and who we want to serve Think: What is news, and what is noise? Do both deserve the same amount of attention? Take a look in the mirror. A slow, careful, and timely look. Of course, the mirror only reveals what one wants to see.

Zizi Papacharissi is professor and head of the communication department at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

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

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

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

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

David Weigel   A test for online speech

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

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

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

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

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Trushar Barot   API or die

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

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

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

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

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

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

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

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

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing