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.

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

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

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

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

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

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

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

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

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

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

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

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

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

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

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

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Paul Ford   Go global

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

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

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

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

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

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Jake Levine   The return to now

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

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

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

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

Burt Herman   Things get real

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

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

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

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

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

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

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

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

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism