Peak push

“Push notifications can feel intrusive and I suspect many complaints about the editorial choices for push alerts are triggered by annoyance at being interrupted rather than their subject matter.”

Wake up in the morning to several screens worth of push notifications. Your shopping is on its way, your friend in a different time zone has WhatsApped you, someone liked your Instagram picture, someone else has gone live on Facebook, one or more news organizations are warning that we may or may not be on the brink of nuclear war.

Yes, it’s a great way to quickly see what’s been going on while you’ve been asleep without having to open loads of apps. But it also can feel overwhelming as the incoming tide of alerts continues throughout the day. (Studies suggest that on average people receive 60 notifications on their phones a day — mostly from social and messaging apps.)

Newsrooms are sending out more and more push notifications because they see results — i.e., people tap through to their apps. But there’s also a bit of a backlash, with some columnists recommending people switch them off and get on with their lives.

As more and more pushes are sent, the big challenges for apps in 2018 are to find ways to break through on people’s screens, fit into their lives (rather than intrude in them) and be of value. Mobile users, on the other hand, may be wondering how to declutter their screens and actually get to the stuff they want.

The answers usually given are personalization and audience segmentation. But that tends to mean either forcing readers to tick a lot of boxes or making assumptions about what they want based on their behavior or location.

Both can be effective but have limitations, as described in more detail in this excellent Tow Center report. How much legwork should we expect an average news consumer to do? Does sending me what I want really mean I can get push alerts on all the topics I’m interested in when I want them? (That could lead to some big scalability issues and even more noise.)

As far as I can see, no one has yet found the holy grail.

More seriously, personalization doesn’t yet solve the problem of interrupting (or distracting) subscribers at inopportune moments. Push notifications can feel intrusive and I suspect many complaints about the editorial choices for push alerts are triggered by annoyance at being interrupted rather than their subject matter. News apps need to find better ways to use contextual signals from a device to take into account not only relevance but also time of day and location/activity, and to balance that with the urgency and or importance of the push alert.

Add to that the introduction of audio notifications for voice-controlled home speakers and it may be that the best platform for an alert isn’t always the mobile screen. Machine learning should help us decide what the best channel for a news notification is at any given time.

Mobile push alerts are not going away — they can be a valuable form of journalism and in many cases a service in their own right. I hope that in 2018 we see more writers thinking about rewarding storytelling made for the lock screen.

Nathalie Malinarich is the mobile and new formats editor for BBC News.

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

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

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

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

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

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

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

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

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

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

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

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

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

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

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

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

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Jake Levine   The return to now

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

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

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

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

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

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

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Paul Ford   Go global

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

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

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

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Burt Herman   Things get real

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

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

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

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

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

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

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement