(Hint: It’s about your brand)

“If this year was about transparency of the journalistic process and how we do our job, next year it will be about transparency of values and why we do our job.”

We know from research one of the primary reasons people pay for news now is for coverage of a specific topic they care about. In 2018, the reason people pay for news will be less transactional and less about the tangible exchange of goods, but instead based on the ~emotional~ relationship a news organization has with its audience. And that emotional connection is built on trust, transparency, and community.

People are increasingly spending money with companies and organizations that are radically transparent, that they connect with, want to belong to, or align with the world they want to live in. And younger people who pay for news are more motivated than older news payers by a desire to support to a news organization’s mission and purpose.

If this year was about transparency of the journalistic process and how we do our job, next year it will be about transparency of values and why we do our job.

First above is Malachy Browne’s tweet that shared the steps in how The New York Times covered the Las Vegas shooting using so-called video forensics. Then there’s The Washington Post’s new series on how reporting works and explaining the journalism process.

Take companies like Everlane and Spotify.1 Both have paired making great products with building a values-based brand — and in the process created a new kind of connection with their audience news organizations have yet to achieve. Everlane focuses on manufacturing transparency and forgoes traditional retail tactics like sales. Spotify used their policy on parental leave and flex holidays as an opportunity to showcase their values.

Everlane’s About page explains their mission of “radical transparency” and shows it through cost breakdowns and price comparisons of various products.

Other brands like Away and Glossier have found success in leading with the emotional connection and making their community integral to what they do. Away’s president Jen Rubio said luggage brands talked too much about product details and not enough about what inspired people to use them. One of Glossier’s most popular products, the Milky Jelly Cleanser, was crowdsourced from their site. Last year, 79 percent of its sales were from “organic and peer-to-peer and earned sources,” a.k.a. their community.

Away’s About page leads with its mission and the inspiration behind the product. Glossier’s call out for what became the Milky Jelly Cleanser, and the product page for the cleanser lists every ingredient and highlights some with an accompanying explanation for why it’s included.

Social media, from which two-thirds of Americans get their news, has diminished news organizations’ brand, obscuring the values by which they do their work and the resulting connection. People are more likely to remember which platform they they found content on than the news brand that produced it. News organizations will need to continue the radical transparency of how we do the work, but also couple that with the why.

Taken together, articulating and acting on clear values alongside an aggressive commitment to transparency and community can be a roadmap for news organizations wanting to rebuild and strengthen trust and the emotional relationship with its audience.

Millie Tran is global growth editor at The New York Times. Stine Bauer Dahlberg is managing director, brand at The New York Times.

Notes
  1. Full disclosure: Stine worked at Spotify from 2009 to 2011.

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Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

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

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

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

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

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

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Burt Herman   Things get real

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

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

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

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

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Jake Levine   The return to now

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

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

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

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

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

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

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

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

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

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

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

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Paul Ford   Go global

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

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

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

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

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

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

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

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

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