Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

“The winners will be the ones who have built a meaningful journalistic report that transcends, and likely capitalizes on, the platform moment.”

I have a jacket emblazoned with the phrase, “Suffering from realness.” The quote, if you didn’t already know, is from rapper and noted footwear purveyor Kanye West. His prose likely had nothing at all to do with the state of journalism,1 but that’s exactly why I had it airbrushed. I, along with two other of my best journo friends, co-opted Kanye to make cryptically public the commitment to powering through the tumultuous publishing seas for something worthy.

@sclary @tiffany99 i hope to god you brought your damn jackets // cc @juliabeizer

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Pivoting to video, forsaking O&O for distributed, hiring growth hackers, pursuing OTT, new ad products, subscriptions, live, visual — you name it. None of these things are inherently bad — all mere tactics in our transition. And yet they are villainized, by, well, us. 2018 will be no exception. However, here’s betting that it will also be a moment when the tide turns in favor of thinking about impact — realness — in a new way. The winners will be the ones who have built a meaningful journalistic report that transcends, and likely capitalizes on, the platform moment.

Out of the darkest moments come some of the best. Take the Weinstein effect and the speed at which those stories traveled. The entire #metoo network effect is impact at a pace and scale previously unimaginable. Yes, our business model is far from settled. But do not think for a moment that this sea change would be possible without platforms that reach 2 billion people. Sure, it comes with a high cost to businesses that once reaped a 60 percent margin. But the impact potential is even greater.

If you are existentially vexed about all of this, the question to ask yourself as it is all happening around you: Are you pivoting to impact? This might sound trite, but I mean it sincerely. Below, a starter “pivot to impact” moral compass!

If you are a journalist: Have you recently revealed something to your audience that they likely didn’t know before that helps them understand the context of our changing world? Important bonus: Did you try to make it reach as many people as possible?

If you work in product: Did you build something that people want, that possibly helps enable the above? (h/t @MarcusMoretti)

If you work on revenue: Are you focusing on how your publication can uniquely serve users or advertisers?

If you are a platform: Have you worked with a publishing partner either on helping to monetize their existing body of work or offered to pay them for their expert services? Have you worked to battle fake news?  

In all seriousness, I am a believer in where we are headed and the good work that’s being done along the way. That’s not to dismiss the challenges and tough calls required to get there. I’ll leave you with a line I often recite to myself and to my teams: If you focus on the story and focus on the user, you will not lose. I am betting on 2018 to value this anew.

Cory Haik is publisher of Mic.

Notes
  1. Honestly I should have reached out for comment, but I feel extremely confident in my stated take that these three words together are entirely unrelated to the journalism industry.

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

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

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

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

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

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

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

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

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

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

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

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

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

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

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

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

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

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Paul Ford   Go global

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

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

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

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

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

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

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

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

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Jake Levine   The return to now

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

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

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

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

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

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Burt Herman   Things get real

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity