The people running the media are the problem

“It’s the safest prediction I could make beyond the sun coming up in the morning: You won’t fix this.”

This month, I spent a week surrounded by bright, well-meaning journalism and tech thinkers. Session after session, day after day, conversations kept coming back to these questions: How do we restore trust in media? How do we reach Middle America? What do we do about fake news?

matt-waiteHere’s my prediction for 2017. It’s the safest prediction I could make beyond the sun coming up in the morning. It’s aimed right at the people who run news organizations.

You won’t fix this. Any of this. Not in 2017. Not soon.

You won’t fix trust in news because…

You won’t fix how news gets made because…

You won’t fix how you hire senior leadership to diversify your thinking because…

You won’t fix what stories are selected because…

You won’t change who you hire to do the stories because…

You won’t fix the ways that stories are written to be more transparent and more directly sourced to give people a reason to trust you because…

You won’t fix the lack of training in newsrooms that could retrain reporters to source stories more explicitly because…

You won’t fix the content management systems to require sourcing on stories to be transparent and structured and visible because…

You won’t fix the technology leadership in the company because…

You won’t fix the thinking that makes you believe you’re not a technology company because…

You won’t fix the belief that trust and fake news is Google and Facebook’s problems and not yours because…

You still don’t believe you’re the problem.

Wake me when you do.

Matt Waite is founder of the Drone Journalism Lab and a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska.

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Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

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Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

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Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

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Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

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Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

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Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

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Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

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

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

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

David Weigel   A test for online speech

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

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

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

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

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

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

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

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

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

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Trushar Barot   API or die

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

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