The year of self-improvement

“2016 and 2017 have been the years of news organizations fitting our content into other companies’ boxes in the quest for The Answer To All Of Our Problems — only to realize that tech giants get bored quickly and have no qualms leaving us holding a dozen additional mini-problems.”

Facebook Instant Articles. Facebook video. Facebook Live video. Snapchat Discover. Google AMP. Google Stamp. Messenger bots. Slack bots. Alexa skills. Google Assistant Actions. 2016 and 2017 have been the years of news organizations fitting our content into other companies’ boxes in the quest for The Answer To All Of Our Problems — only to realize that tech giants get bored quickly and have no qualms leaving us holding a dozen additional mini-problems. It’s a vicious cycle, and if Silicon Valley isn’t careful, we’re only going to fall for it another ten or twelve times before doing something about it.

But what will we do instead? 2018 will be the year to look inwards and reflect on the state of our own glass houses. There is going to be a huge opportunity for innovation on the web next year, as Apple will join Google in bringing or improving app-like features such as push notifications, offline browsing, and home screen shortcuts to mobile browsers. Rather than wait for these companies to tell us what to do, we can take the tools they provide and improve coverage on the platforms we own. But before we can do that, we need to make them a place readers actually want to visit: no more full-screen takeover ads, newsletter signup modals, or arbitrary “click to read more” buttons. It will be difficult to overcome our dependence on programmatic ad dollars and pageview counts, but we must.

As the web gains app-like functions, native apps will be reevaluated according to what makes them unique and worth the sizable investment they require. For some, that will mean incredible visual journalism that incorporates AR, VR, and the like. For others, it might mean gathering external signals like commute time or location in order to deliver a truly personal news reading experience. But an app that pairs simple article reading with push notifications won’t cut it any more.

The problem: This all costs a huge amount of time and money. Which will be acceptable for the more well-funded media organizations (though they too will be cutting costs), but unrealistic for smaller, less well-funded ones. This divide between the digital haves and the digital have-nots has been widening for years — maybe 2018 will finally be the year to fix the trickle-down knowledge sharing in tech and come up with open, industry-wide tools that solve our big problems and are easier to set up than a bare repository of source code. It’s in everyone’s interest, because if we want to regain the trust of our readers, fixing one website is not enough. We need to restore their trust in the ecosystems that let us succeed.

Alastair Coote is a developer at the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab.

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Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

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Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

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Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

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Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

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Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

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

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Paul Ford   Go global

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Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

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Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

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Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

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Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

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Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

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Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

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

Burt Herman   Things get real

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

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Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

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

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

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

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Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

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

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

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