2
0
1
9

Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

“Our prism of partisanship as the fundamental way to view the world is dangerously myopic, blinding us to the real workings of power, and causing us not to ask the right questions.”

This is the year — I hope — that journalists will begin to admit that there is no such thing as neutrality.

All over the world, the forces of authoritarianism and the forces of democracy are struggling for control of the future. You can see it in Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Brazil, the Philippines, the United States and just about everywhere else. To believe that because you’re a journalist you’re a neutral observer to this battle is to be as detached from reality as Donald Trump claiming his inauguration was the biggest in history. You may not have intended it at the time, but the moment you decided to become a journalist, you chose a side. The very act of doing journalism means allegiance to the forces of democracy.

And yet American journalists remain obsessed with being “neutral.” We’ll do anything to avoid being called “partisan.” But is it possible that our concept of “partisanship” is outdated, left over from a time when newspapers were still transitioning away from being the organs of party machines? When independence from political faction was a new idea, a selling point? It’s as if, somewhere along the way, the (crucial) idea of independence from party lines became ossified. We confused non-partisanship with never taking a side on anything. As if that were even possible — as if news organization aren’t taking sides every day about what they choose to cover, who they quote, and what gets left out.

In this historical moment, when such a power-grab by authoritarian forces is underway, we can’t afford not to see reality as it is. Our prism of partisanship as the fundamental way to view the world is dangerously myopic, blinding us to the real workings of power, and causing us not to ask the right questions. If we accepted that we are inherently advocates for a democratic system, that could change. We’d be less focused on what’s good or bad for the Democrats or Republicans, and more focused on what’s good or bad for the democratic system. Everything from editorial decision making to reporter training would change if we refocused on power rather than party.

Obviously, the question of what’s good for democracy is one over which honest people can differ, and those debates belong on the pages of any serious news organization. But too often, today, with our myopic frame of nonpartisanship, we give equal weight to the spin of people whose allegiances are simply to something other than democracy. If you think that demanding quality education and healthcare, clean air and water, affordable housing and a functioning justice system makes you a left-wing radical, you’ve been hoodwinked by anti-democratic forces. Those are simply things that are necessary for a democratic system to flourish.

If news organizations came out as advocates for democracy, we might also find ourselves with new allies. And U.S. journalists — aka the Enemies of the People — could use some new friends. Could we claim people in education, health care, justice reform, environmental studies, and income equality work as our allies? What if we allied ourselves with voting rights advocates and made a metric of success whether our readers voted?

In other words, could this be the year when we all agreed we were partisan — but for the democratic system? Please.

Heather Chaplin is the director of the Journalism + Design program at The New School.

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Hearken   Pivot to people

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

james Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism