Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

“As an industry, and as individuals, we’re realizing that we need to invest in organizational change, personal growth, and the human connections that will get us there.”

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a restaurant underneath the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the central square of Kiev. I was talking to Taras, the impressive founder of a new type of local news organization that seems to be doing everything right. At the center of their strategy, he told me, is audience trust and community engagement. They deliver the right stories at the right time in the right format. Working closely with local businesses, they may have even cracked the revenue model in an exceptionally tough advertising and regulatory market.

What I witnessed in Taras is something I’ve seen time and again throughout 2017: an unparalleled openness. A willingness for people in journalism to connect and honestly share experiences, good and bad, that might further the industry.

With that, I see an opportunity in 2018 to turn the informal sharing we see in conversations like this into something more substantive through mentorships.

The media is under fire like never before. At the same time, this is what the European media innovation ecosystem looks like right now:

  • Engaged journalism enterprises like De Correspondent, CORRECT!V, and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism are making waves internationally.
  • Innovative storytelling and investigative outfits like Outriders, Society,, Tvoe Mista, ForSet, Piqd, and Atlatszo are finding new audiences and revenues.
  • Startups like Neva Labs, Opinary, Kaleida, Sceenic, and Trint (to name but a few) are ramping up and extending runways with bold ideas and new technology.
  • Even the traditional publishers and broadcasters are making significant breakthroughs. Just look at Spiegel Online’s award-winning data projects or Euronews’ progress with immersive storytelling.

To help sustain this new landscape, new funding is coming online with the emergence of venture capital hubs like Next Media Accelerator, the continuation of Google’s Digital News Initiative, and increased interest from donors like the Omidyar Network and the Philanthropic Alliance for Solidarity and Democracy in Europe.

In 2018, the experiences of these new initiatives will be the catalyst for even more innovation. Mentorships are essential to accelerate these connections. As an industry, and as individuals, we’re realizing that we need to invest in organizational change, personal growth, and the human connections that will get us there. Mentorships add structure and value to the informal sharing of ideas we experience at conferences and in Slack channels.

Without more structure, all the learning experienced by these various groups will remain siloed (and their monetary investments unfulfilled). Successful entrepreneurs will take vital experience into closed commercial settings. Startups won’t achieve sustainability or exit. Entrepreneurs will fail and quit, newsrooms won’t leverage innovation from within, and students will graduate being unable to find employment.

In 2018, we will see more training programmes, grants, and workshops with knowledge exchange and leadership support at the core. The value of mentorships is already being demonstrated through programs and ideas from our friends at the Knight Foundation, Poynter Institute, ICIJ, Code4Africa, News Integrity Initiative, Google News Lab, Euractiv, Next Journalism Prize, Hamburg Media School, and the Media Lab Bayern. Our own News Impact Academy, Journalism Grants, and Engaged Journalism Accelerator are being calibrated to feature mentorship at the heart of what they do.

We will also see mentorship happen outside of these programs. The best thing about this quiet revolution is that anyone can do it. It starts with an invitation to coffee, a Twitter DM, or a quick question over email. Start with people you know. Connect with people who you can help too, and who will find it a beneficial and rewarding experience. Reach out, explain what you want from the relationship, and take it from there.

Of all the things I’ve done this year, kickstarting my own mentoring relationships, both as mentor and mentee, has been the most rewarding. I’ve visited over 20 countries this year, and from Kiev to Krakow, Berlin to Brussels, and Riga to Rome, the challenges we share unite us. Geopolitics and polarization and advertising markets might vary, but the value in sharing experiences, failures, and victories remains.

Leading any part of an organization in this climate is really hard. If 2018 proves to be anything like 2017, we’re all going to need someone to talk to. If you don’t already have a mentor, 2018 will be the year you get one.

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Jake Levine   The return to now

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

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

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

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

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

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

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

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

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

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

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

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

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Burt Herman   Things get real

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

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

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

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

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

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

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

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

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

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Dan Newman   A return to trust

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

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

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

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

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

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

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

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Paul Ford   Go global