Making noise is not a strategy

“We may lament this and chastise Facebook for its lack of a moral compass and civic responsibility — but it’s a reality we have to come to terms with.”

From Twitter, to Snapchat, to Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s AMP, not to mention looking to VR to save the journalism business, too much energy has gone into making as much noise online as possible.

After years of trying to beat the tech giants at their own game, 2018 will be the year that news media (hopefully) accepts that making noise ≠ strategy. News publishers, exhausted by years of shouting as loud as they can on the web, will reluctantly accept defeat to their frenemies in Silicon Valley.

There is, of course, a clear logic behind this. Noise translates into clicks and site visits, which ultimately translate into adspend. Unfortunately, it is now undeniable that this model will only work for the likes of Facebook and Google.

We may lament this and chastise Facebook for its lack of a moral compass and civic responsibility — but it’s a reality we have to come to terms with.

If for no other reason, noise levels will decrease in 2018 out of sheer fatigue. Even the likes of BuzzFeed and Vice are struggling. If BuzzFeed, the masters of the listicle and all things sticky on the web, can’t make it work, what chance does the average news publisher? Pretty much none.

In short, while making noise has value — all publishers need to grow their audience — its merits as meaningful strategy are looking ever more dubious. More often than not it looks, sounds, and feels like desperation.

So what to do? As difficult as it may be right now given the financial circumstances most publishers find themselves in, it is critical for the industry to take a step back, resist the distraction of noise making, and focus on core strategy.

For example, rather than trying to reach as many people as possible, does it make more sense to focus on a specific audience and to develop bespoke commercial strategies?

Is content the only thing you can monetize? Are you underutilizing other revenue sources, such as conferences or events? Yes, we all want to focus on the bread and butter of journalism, but don’t underestimate the earning potential of alternative products.

Just look at Reuters and Bloomberg — neither make their real money off of their journalism, and neither need to! Both are data companies with a media front end. This doesn’t mean try to compete with them on data, but think laterally about what else you can offer your audience.

This won’t be easy — but if you have spent any time in media over the last 15 to 20 years, you’re already used to that!

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

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

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

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

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Jake Levine   The return to now

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

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Burt Herman   Things get real

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

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

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

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

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

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

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

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

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

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

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

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

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

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

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

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

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

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

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

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

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

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

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

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

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

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

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

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

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Paul Ford   Go global