A return to trust

“Ultimately, I believe that we will convince the public that there’s nothing fake about the reporting coming from our organizations.”

Remember the early days of the web, where it seemed like anything was possible? When anyone with half an idea could start a GeoCities page and build a following for their extensive collection of MIDI music? When Facebook was the place that you could connect with people who shared your class schedule and exchange notes from that lecture you missed? We naively thought that the future would build on these early good-faith interpersonal connections to create a global, interconnected community.

Instead, what we ended up with were social platforms that reinforced isolation, siloing, filter bubbles, and groupthink. The partisan divide is growing wider, and it’s in large part because these systems are sorting us into clusters that are homogeneous — we no longer understand one another because we have become invisible to one another.

As these platforms have aimed to optimize for “time spent” and “likes” rather than meaningful engagement and discussion, the content that rises to the surface is often biased, pandering, or simply fake. This, in turn, has reinforced the worldview of those who simply believe that all news, regardless of its source, is untrustworthy.

And yet we know that there is a hunger for real stories told transparently and honestly. In 2018, I believe that we’ll begin the long process of rebuilding trust in the institution of the fourth estate —
and in turn, the media will help to renew our trust and connections with our fellow citizens.

It all starts with transparency. Especially on digital platforms, it’s essential that news consumers truly understand the full context for the stories that they’re seeing — sourcing, viewpoint, past reporting, etc. Not just transparency around the stories themselves, but also transparency around the algorithms that that invisibly control the stories that we see on social networks and aggregators.

This past year, some progress has been made on those fronts. News organizations have become more attentive to providing better “explainers” and cross-linking to provide a wider view of the stories that they are telling. Facebook, finally beginning to realize their unintentional complicity in bad-faith information distribution, has begun to make strides in better identifying news sourcing and blocking ads that spread false news stories. And, most excitingly to me, the Trust Project has gone live with a series of indicators that publications can encode into the metadata of their pages to help aggregation partners — including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Bing — display the most relevant signifiers of news quality to their audiences.

In the next year, those of us who work on the digital product side of the news business will need to challenge ourselves on how we can continue to build platforms that foster transparency, accountability, and community-building. We will support our colleagues in the newsroom in telling the stories that matter in ways that are impactful and relevant. Ultimately, I believe that we will convince the public that there’s nothing fake about the reporting coming from our organizations.

Dan Newman is the deputy creative director at NPR.

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Jake Levine   The return to now

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Paul Ford   Go global

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Burt Herman   Things get real

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse