The end is already here

“Better to be consumed in the nuclear blast than to live rummaging among the ruins. Those of us still left in the business are the poor survivors. We’ve peered into the cannibals’ cellar.”

Here is how it will go. Men with no fewer than four boats and at least as many divorces, whose monetary interests are best served by going entirely unreported on, will continue to purchase existing media properties, either gutting them, running them into the ground, or rendering them effectively toothless, as we’ve seen with numerous alt-weeklies and newspapers throughout the country in the past few years.

Sometimes we won’t even know whose hand it is pulling the lever on the guillotine. The publications who would’ve reported on who bought the publications won’t exist anymore.

Dailies who aren’t already well ahead of the game in terms of reverting back to subscription models, or of significant enough national prominence, or don’t find their own relatively benevolent billionaire owner, will continue to either be neutered or flattened out by conglomerates into content distributors. The ones that don’t will buy some time, but will ultimately become vanity projects read only by people wealthy enough to remain interested in the superficial comings and goings of other wealthy people.

The internet will continue to become increasingly polarized to the point where we no longer merely dismiss the reporting from the other side that we find inconvenient, but we don’t even realize it exists anymore because they won’t penetrate our microscopically focused self-selected social media cocoons.

The last remaining source of local news will be the neighborhood-based Facebook groups people go to right now to complain about leaf-blowing imbroglios. Instead of asking what night of the week street parking is allowed, we’ll ask if anyone knows whether or not the rumors about the mayor’s horse-fucking dungeon are real, then we’ll be suspended for posting profanity.

With fewer checks on the remorseless, shameless, broke dicks on the local level, the worst people alive will graduate from their local grifting operations to the national stage unmolested by conscience or scandal, populating the halls of power with an even worse species of villain than we’ve previously imagined. Nothing anyone of us can now do will stop it. It’s too late. We’re pivoting and pivoting in a widening gyre.

There’s a trope in dystopian fiction and apocalyptic films where it’s almost worse to have survived for just a little longer than everyone else wiped out in the original disaster. Better to be consumed in the nuclear blast than to live rummaging among the ruins. Those of us still left in the business are the poor survivors. We’ve peered into the cannibals’ cellar.

What’s worse is that we are still pretending it didn’t happen. We’re fighting over pools of shit-water that have settled into the craters and bartering with dog meat under the mistaken impression we’re carrying the fire. On the plus side, there will be a lot more Stranger Things posts.

Luke O’Neil is a writer-at-large for Esquire.

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

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

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Paul Ford   Go global

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

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

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

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

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

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

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Burt Herman   Things get real

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

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

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

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

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

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

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

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

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

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

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

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

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

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Jake Levine   The return to now

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

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

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

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

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

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

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

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

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

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

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

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered