API or die

“By offering greater API access, news organizations can also experiment with becoming capable of being platforms themselves.”

If you don’t use APIs in 2017, your media business will die.

trushar-barotNow that the over-dramatic opening is out the way, here’s what I think is going to be a significant shift in the use of platforms in 2017: the opening up of APIs, everywhere.

An API (application programming interface) is essentially a set of building blocks given to you by a platform (e.g. by a messaging app or social media company) to enable you to build your own functionality on top of what is offered by the platform as standard. Depending on what building blocks are made available, you can create your own services or user experiences.

A lot of the tools currently used in the industry — Dataminr, Chartbeat, SocialFlow, and Crowdtangle, among others — all take advantage of APIs offered by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram to deliver deeper data, analytics, alerts, or publishing mechanisms.

APIs aren’t new — they’ve been around a long time. What will be so significant about 2017 is just how widespread they will become — meaning news organizations will have the potential to distribute content and engage with audiences at a greater scale than ever before.

Want to develop an app for a Google, Tesla, or Apple self-driving car? That could soon be possible because of APIs. Want to pull in insights data from YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter into your own in-house analytics tool? APIs mean you can now. Want to connect your TV production systems into Facebook Live? An API will sort it for you. How about developing bespoke automated accounts or content that are more likely to be picked up with AI assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, or Google’s Assistant? All of these AI assistants are likely to offer sophisticated APIs in 2017.

Among the other big platforms likely to release some sort of API in 2017 are Snapchat and WhatsApp — opening up potential access to hundreds of millions of millennial users and over a billion users in emerging markets.

Now more than ever, you will need to have access to developers who can focus on experimenting with APIs and develop uses that will work regardless of the size of your media company and reach the audiences you want on the platforms they are on. If you don’t have developers already embedded in your newsroom, make sure you at least have processes to enable your editorial teams to work closely with them.

So far, all the API-momentum is coming from the platforms, as they try and make it easier for third parties to engage more deeply with them. But two can play at that game. 2017 will also the see the rise in APIs being offered by news organizations.

The BBC News Labs team (among a number of other news organizations who also do this) already works with coders during hack days where they get access to an API that pulls in BBC News content that then allows it to be adapted for a range of different digital tools and platforms. By offering greater API access, news organizations can also experiment with becoming capable of being platforms themselves. APIs, if developed and deployed effectively, have the potential to release your content and make it more discoverable, distributable, and recognized as your brand than ever before.

Trushar Barot is mobile editor for BBC World Service.

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Trushar Barot   API or die

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Errin Haines   Chaos or community?

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones