Facing journalism’s history

“Journalism must shift from claiming to have all the answers to being the ones with the skills to survey the different perspectives, match them to the facts, and connect the two with the worlds that people actually live in.”

What the heck just happened?

In 2016, we kept asking that question as events moved beyond our ability to predict them. In 2017, we have to answer it. We might not like where that answer leads.

sydette-harryWhat the heck is happening? History matters, and we are watching it play out again in brutal fashion. People can’t tell real news from fake, while soft-focus profiles of neo-Nazis outnumber coverage of local education, and Facebook is looking for a news editor.

Journalism is a profession where being “in the know” has great social currency. It can also bring out the worst affects of insularity and condescension. Broad pronouncements over the fate of the country are made by closed circles of “experts” who live in the same three-block radius within maybe four cities, based on reading each other’s thinkpieces and imagined conversations with fictional Americans. We get constant explanations of the lives of those Americans who have been part of public life for centuries, but somehow can’t break into the double digits combined in any major newsroom. Newsrooms are shedding jobs left and right. Freelancers are barely surviving as legacy and new media platforms ebb and flow like the tides. Public trust in the media continues to plummet, and it’s not hard to see why.

Except that’s not the whole truth. The election results drove up subscriptions to several news outlets. Small cultural journals are creating amazing member-supported pieces. Good work is being recognized as good work, no matter where it originates. New faces and perspectives are completely reshaping where we go for news and what it is.

All of these things are true and none of them are the only truth, but we got here somehow and one thing is clear: Journalism must shift from claiming to have all the answers to being the ones with the skills to survey the different perspectives, match them to the facts, and connect the two with the worlds that people actually live in. The small monopoly of voices just don’t cut it anymore.

What the heck better happen?

This is the year that journalism stops crafting the history the profession wants, and deals with the history the profession has. If we don’t know what’s going on, it’s because we’re not listening to the people who do. If they don’t want to talk to us, then we have to figure out why.

How people feel about the media has changed the course of history. It’s doing it again. Journalism needs to face itself, before history does.

Sydette Harry is community lead on The Coral Project.

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

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

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

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

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

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

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

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

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Trushar Barot   API or die

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

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

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

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

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

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

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really