The people running the media are the problem

“It’s the safest prediction I could make beyond the sun coming up in the morning: You won’t fix this.”

This month, I spent a week surrounded by bright, well-meaning journalism and tech thinkers. Session after session, day after day, conversations kept coming back to these questions: How do we restore trust in media? How do we reach Middle America? What do we do about fake news?

matt-waiteHere’s my prediction for 2017. It’s the safest prediction I could make beyond the sun coming up in the morning. It’s aimed right at the people who run news organizations.

You won’t fix this. Any of this. Not in 2017. Not soon.

You won’t fix trust in news because…

You won’t fix how news gets made because…

You won’t fix how you hire senior leadership to diversify your thinking because…

You won’t fix what stories are selected because…

You won’t change who you hire to do the stories because…

You won’t fix the ways that stories are written to be more transparent and more directly sourced to give people a reason to trust you because…

You won’t fix the lack of training in newsrooms that could retrain reporters to source stories more explicitly because…

You won’t fix the content management systems to require sourcing on stories to be transparent and structured and visible because…

You won’t fix the technology leadership in the company because…

You won’t fix the thinking that makes you believe you’re not a technology company because…

You won’t fix the belief that trust and fake news is Google and Facebook’s problems and not yours because…

You still don’t believe you’re the problem.

Wake me when you do.

Matt Waite is founder of the Drone Journalism Lab and a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska.

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

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

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

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

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

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

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

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

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

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

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

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

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

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

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

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

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Errin Haines   Chaos or community?

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Trushar Barot   API or die

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity