Passive partnership is in the rearview

“Instead of jumping onto every new platform, ask yourself: Why should we be here? Can we make it better? Add more value? Be more useful? Can we provide a unique experience?”

Want a better partner? Be a better partner.

The conversation used to go:

Boss: Are we on that platform?
Employee: Yes! Our feed is up and running.
Boss: Awesome, you rule!

Then we arrived at a point where we were everywhere, our feed funneling on overdrive to the far reaches of the web, app, and device world. We watched and waited with great anticipation as we saw spikes in traffic — then the inevitable plateau or, worse, decline.

And then this conversation:

Boss: Why are we on this platform, again?
Employee: Well, it used to be great, but now…
Boss: What’s our extraction plan?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Today, we live in a reality where stories published to your .com will most likely only be seen by a fraction of the audience you can reach on the Facebooks, Apple Newses, and Snapchats of the world. The conversation is now shifting to finding ways to help your audience not only grow but, more importantly, thrive within dozens of ecosystems you ultimately have no control over.

In 2018, passive partnership is in the rearview.

Instead of jumping onto every new platform, ask yourself: Why should we be here? Can we make it better? Add more value? Be more useful? Can we provide a unique experience? If so, then yes, push ahead.

In the past year, through these partnerships, we began to see the creation of exclusive journalism and bespoke design and storytelling for high-value platforms — that’s the tip of the iceberg. To be change agents, media companies looking to make an impact must take a holistic approach to these relationships.

At its core, it takes a three-pronged commitment that includes delegates from your editorial, product, and engineering teams. Outline to partners what expertise your team brings to the table and how the platform can benefit from a partnership. Make lofty asks, demand more storytelling capabilities, express your desire to rapidly experiment, give tangible feedback — not only on the outward facing but also what’s under the hood (“If your CMS could do this, then we would be able to do X, Y, Z”) — talk UX and UI, and most importantly build candid and respectful relationships.

On the flipside, be open and ask what partners would want from you in an ideal world. (Exclusive stories? Best practices for handling breaking news and alerts?) Schedule standing check-ins to talk about successes and frustrations. Push for road maps and timelines. Express excitement. Become an “alpha partner.” In other words, put in the time.

Of course, you can’t be everything to everyone; some partners just won’t show the love. Those become case-by-case decisions as you try to figure out how to move forward and what your investment (both emotional and tangible) should be. Maybe they just get a 15-story feed.

Historically, these relationships have been a series of peaks and valleys. At the end of the day, we need to find a way to link those peaks and limit the valleys — if only for our own sanity. I believe this is how we can grow together. Otherwise we grow apart…and we all know how that ends.

Christopher Meighan is director of emerging news products at The Washington Post.

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

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Burt Herman   Things get real

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

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

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Paul Ford   Go global

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

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

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

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

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

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

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

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

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

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

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

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

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

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

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

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

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

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

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

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Jake Levine   The return to now

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

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

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

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

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

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

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

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes