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There is no magic — you’ve got this

“It was and always will be about serving your readers and now viewers, listeners, users and continuing to do so by adapting journalism fundamentals to ever-evolving contexts and challenges.”

The Pareto principle, which is also known as the 80-20 rule, states that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. It’s named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who helped develop the field of microeconomics. He observed that 80 percent of land in Italy was owned by about 20 percent of the population. Another example can be how 80 percent of a company’s revenue is generated by 20 percent of its customers.

But the numbers aren’t important here: It’s about the vital few and how a small number of things you do account for the majority of the outcomes.

“Personal wellness is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent knowledge,” Rebecca Shern writes. “And here’s the secret: we already have the necessary information. Stop searching.” As someone who goes down productivity rabbit holes, I found this statement life-changing. It’s not only about seeking more knowledge, but improving our daily choices.

You could replace personal wellness with doing good journalism. We know the best practices and what the tools are. It’s about the day-to-day doing, the actions and behaviors driven by your values that become good habits that become the foundations of a sustainable business.

I started my career launching a membership model, then moved to podcasts, newsletters, and apps, with some other stops in between. That was almost a decade ago now — and if you’ve been in this longer, time can feel like a flat circle. Homepages are back again after being dead, and back again after another death. Things change, but slower than you think, and mostly cyclically.  

“True innovation isn’t just some magic carnival of invention, like a Steve Jobs keynote with a pretty toy at the end. It is a continuing process of gradual improvement and assessment that every institution and business experiences in some way,” writes David Sax in The New York Times. “Often that actually means adopting ideas and tools that already exist but make sense in a new context, or even returning to methods that worked in the past.”

It was never about putting all your eggs into one platform basket, or chasing every new thing. It was and always will be about serving your readers and now viewers, listeners, users and continuing to do so by adapting journalism fundamentals to ever-evolving contexts and challenges. That means also adapting how you reach them, whether that’s through search, social, an email, app, or ideally directly, and in whatever the best format may be. And finally, that also means constantly experimenting and diversifying your revenue streams to adapt to ever-changing market conditions.

Next year will be the year of going back to basics. Play the long game. There is no magic, only work.

Millie Tran is global growth editor at The New York Times.

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Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

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

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

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

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

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

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

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M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

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

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

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Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

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

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

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

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

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

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

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

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

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

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

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

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

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

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

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

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

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

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

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

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

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

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

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

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

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

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

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

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

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

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

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

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

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

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

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

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

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

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Hearken   Pivot to people

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

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

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

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

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

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

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

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

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

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

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

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

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

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

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

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

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

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

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

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

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