Tech workers turn to journalism

“They’re hungry for something mission-driven, something that even on its worst day serves a valuable public service. Journalism would be wise to welcome these outsiders into the fold.”

Thanks to rising political anxiety, more tech people will look for opportunities in journalism next year, I predict.

Anxiousness over North Korea, sexual abuse scandals, tax bills, health care, FBI investigations, climate change, net neutrality, Russian election meddling — to name but a few — eventually spurs a meltdown or a reaction. For some, that reaction is this: Find ways to ameliorate anxiety through meaningful work. And for those versed in code, design, user experience, and other elements of making delightful digital stuff, journalism’s allure is growing.

I am one of those who transitioned from a technology career to journalism, albeit many years ago. For me, the catalyst wasn’t current-event angst but the desire to contribute to something bigger than, say, the next Spider-Man game or photo sharing app. That urge seems to be growing among my former peers due, in part, to this year’s political tumult.

Over the last few months, a surge of acquaintances from game development, e-commerce, and startups has pinged me with a similar question: “Is there a place for a person like me in a news org like yours?” It’s not that these tech folks want to try their hand at reporting or feel burned out in their current fields. Rather, they want to figure out how they can apply what they’re already good at — making elegant, useful, and addictive digital products — to something bigger than shipping app updates or chasing clicks. They’re hungry for something mission-driven, something that even on its worst day serves a valuable public service.

Journalism would be wise to welcome these outsiders into the fold. They’re product makers, which we need to compete with the myriad of distractions on the web. Forward-looking college programs like Texas State are training the next generation of these folks for our industry, and NICAR and SRCCON brim with news nerds already in our ranks. However, we could always use more help from sharp newcomers who know how to build engaging products and share our passion for the mission.

Journalists are ace storytellers. In 2018, we’ll see an uptick in people joining our ranks who are new to our field yet fluent in all of the things that help make our storytelling thrive.

Rodney Gibbs is chief product officer at The Texas Tribune.

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

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

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

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

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Paul Ford   Go global

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

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

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

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

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

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

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Burt Herman   Things get real

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

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

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

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

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

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Jake Levine   The return to now

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

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

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

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

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

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

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

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

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

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

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

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

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

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

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here