We won’t do enough

“We’ll debate and have panels, and talk past each other.”

In years past, most Nieman Lab annual predictions correctly centered around how journalism will grapple with rapidly changing technology in the coming year. How would we adapt to digital, social, mobile, VR, and other advances that affect the distribution, reporting, and nature of news? We knew these changes would affect the industry profoundly, and many used this space to offer thoughtful and accurate predictions on how.

carrie-brown-smithBut in 2017, I know I’m not alone in thinking that our focus will turn away from technology to even weightier issues surrounding truth, trust, and even the survival of our democracy, which depends on a free and vibrant press. How can we combat “fake news” or, more accurately, propaganda? How can we do our jobs when both the left and the right are increasingly vociferous in their condemnation of our work? (And no, having everybody hate us doesn’t mean we are “doing it right.”) How do we do our jobs with an administration that is openly hostile to the press?

The Fourth Estate is in crisis, and as I’ve written previously, I am desperately hoping that we respond with a roar, not a whimper. We must fearlessly call out lies and propaganda despite the relentless pressure to be stenographers. We must commit to listening and empathy, and not just to the usual suspects — and by this I do not mean coming to the absurd conclusion that our biggest coverage blindspot involved white men. We must continue to punch up, but also spend more time on getting a bottom-up understanding of the concerns and goals of the people we serve. We must double-down on diversity in newsrooms and the internal communication that makes it possible for different perspectives to be heard. We must not just continue to rigorously check the facts but explain to the public how we do so and why it matters.

But this is supposed to be a prediction, not an admonition. Will we do this?

I’m afraid the answer is “not enough.” We’ll debate and have panels, and talk past each other. Many will pound the lectern haranguing us on their rigid, intellectually bereft notions of what objectivity means in journalism, even though years ago The Elements of Journalism helped us understand what decades of great scholars have long known, that objectivity is a method, not some kind of magical spell that somehow removes any biases from individual reporters and editors. We will fight false equivalence, but we’ll still see it emerge on many fronts, especially cable news.

There will be many brave journalists — some of them my former students, if I may so brag — that will be working to not just tell stories and uncover wrongdoing but also to find creative ways to use their skills to work with communities and not just for them to solve problems. They will be working not just at startups but also working inside larger, more traditional news organizations, trying to change the culture and think about new approaches to news. I can only hope they succeed. I’ll be working as hard as I can to be sure that they do.

Carrie Brown-Smith is director of the social journalism program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

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

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Trushar Barot   API or die

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Mario Garcia   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

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

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

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

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

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

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

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

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

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

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing