Self-help as a publishing strategy

“There is no blueprint for these sorts of projects, because they are built on personality and trust. One size does not fit all. They require building a content feedback loop that requires dedication and resources.”

Engagement projects, interactive journalism, multi-platform storytelling…whatever you want to call it, more media brands will try to deepen their relationship with the consumer in a self-helpy kind of way.

In 2017, The New York Times’ Smarter Living saw further success with its How-To Guides, Mozilla and Tactical Tech rolled out their Data Detox kit, and Axios partnered with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global for a sleep survey. Other variations included Quartz’s texting app and ABC News’ Dan Harris with his 10% Happier side gig.

In 2018, look for more journalism outlets to attempt to insert themselves into consumers’ lives via daily newsletters, apps, or texts that ask for feedback in the form of stories and/or data.

But engagement producer beware: There is no blueprint for these sorts of projects, because they are built on personality and trust. One size does not fit all. They require building a content feedback loop that requires dedication and resources.

Tim Ferriss and Gretchen Rubin have done this sort of hybrid memoir/journalism for years. They began by tackling their own personal problems (how to be happier? how to work less?) and then using the answers they found to provide their readers with clear, actionable steps.

I’ve found my own success with these projects in large part by enlisting the audience in experimenting with solutions to modern struggles like coping with information overload, changing digital habits, and protecting our online identity.

Two things I’d like to see conquered next: scaling these projects while maintaining the personalized touch they require, and using project results as proof of need/concept to advocate for systemic change.

Manoush Zomorodi is host of the WNYC podcast Note to Self.

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

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

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

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

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

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

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

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

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Burt Herman   Things get real

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Jake Levine   The return to now

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

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

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

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

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

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

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

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

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

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

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

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

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

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

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

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

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Paul Ford   Go global

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

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

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

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

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

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

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest