Conquering calm

“Following one of the most intense years of news coverage in recent memory, mixed with the ongoing tectonic shocks of technology, more news consumers will likely tire of the machine-gun salvo of incremental factoids wrapped in large-font breathlessness.”

At a recent business dinner, one executive did something unexpected: He pulled out a Nokia phone that looked like it belonged in the late 1990s. He explained that he had adopted the “dumb phone” to fight information overload from his now-discarded smartphone, which until recently had barraged him with alerts, headlines, emails, social media, and everything else we see every day. His reasoning: He now had fewer distractions and more time to think.

It’s an understandable move. And it may be a harbinger of what’s ahead for at least some media. As the twin torrents of technology and a changing world order work their way through our lives, information consumption has skyrocketed. Challenges to the global status quo have prompted news media to get on top of its game — producing some of the strongest reporting we’ve seen from some quarters. But it has also lowered the threshold for what’s considered news. Screaming headlines flash on our phones and TV screens blare non-stop headlines, which competing news outlets in turn debunk just as rapidly.

We’ve arrived at a pivot point in our history, and with that come the dueling cravings to be current on events while truly understanding their significance. The first is easier to achieve: One can passively sit back and absorb news by reflexively checking one’s phone screen, for example. The second — obtaining true understanding — is trickier: Where can one turn not for the latest, but for the most meaningful answers?

Following one of the most intense years of news coverage in recent memory, mixed with the ongoing tectonic shocks of technology, more news consumers will likely tire of the machine-gun salvo of incremental factoids wrapped in large-font breathlessness. Readers are more likely to crave calm distillation of meaningful themes and trends. That marks an opportunity for at least a few news organizations: to focus limited resources on thoughtful summary and analysis rather than the increasingly risky push to achieve the elusive goal of being first for all developments at any cost.

Some news outlets are already moving in that direction — by way of personable, thoughtful newsletters with a finite number of items, for example, or by being more selective when issuing news alerts. Undoubtably, more will follow with new and creative attempts to conquer calm in the coming year. While at least a few more people will follow the dumb-phone executive and some may even dump smart phones, many more will turn to news outlets that provide crisp, intelligent, analytic briefings and considerate distillations.

Almar Latour is publisher and executive vice president of the Dow Jones Media Group.

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Jake Levine   The return to now

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Burt Herman   Things get real

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Paul Ford   Go global

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall