The empire strikes back

“2018 will be the year in which everyone in technology is obliged to look in the mirror and ask themselves not just whether their intentions are good enough, but whether their actions are strong enough.”

Last year, I declared that 2017 would be The Year of the Rebelpreneur. I believed that the seeds of the next great media institutions would be planted in 2017 — when things looked darker for our democracy than they had looked in a long time — by courageous entrepreneurs who made the leap to build ventures that speak truth to power, close the massive empathy gap that we have in this country, and take a radically inclusive approach to amplifying the voices of all people.

Rebelpreneurs — both outside and inside media institutions — have heeded the call to strengthen our media ecosystem. Journalists have never been stronger in the face of unprecedented political, cultural, and economic aggression. They have doggedly investigated a corrupt administration to the brink of collapse, and they have taken down men in power who have proven they don’t have the moral or ethical standing to continue to hold it. And readers who value quality journalism have stepped up and rewarded journalists for their good work by becoming subscribers in record numbers.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are taking big swings at solving some of the industry’s deepest problems. They are building more secure communication tools for journalists. They are amplifying voices that have been marginalized by the mainstream. They are finding new ways for facts to matter in a post-truth world. They are creating new ways for people to more deeply empathize with each other through new visual media. They are leveraging open data to build a more informed society and to hold those with power accountable at scale. And they are experimenting with new monetization models for journalists and other content creators.

The good work is being done. The Force is strong. But, in 2018, the Empire will strike back.

The competitive landscape for upstarts and innovators will, unfortunately, become much harder. Net neutrality is on the brink of extinction. Facebook, Amazon, and Google continue to build up massive data network effects that are harder and harder for new entrants and old media institutions to overcome. And the core values of a democratic society will continue to be chipped away until what was once considered abhorrent behavior will now be considered “just the way it is,” because we become more tired and less shocked every single day.

The work of Rebelpreneurs — from each and every position in society — will be harder and more important than ever.

In tech, the last year has starkly shown us that while technology can be leveraged for massive good, it can also be leveraged for massive evil. While we’ve built products with the intention of making the world a better place, it takes more than good intentions to make positive change.

2018 will be the year in which everyone in technology is obliged to look in the mirror and ask themselves not just whether their intentions are good enough, but whether their actions are strong enough. Some of this self-reflection will come through forced means, as the investigations into the platforms’ roles in allowing their content marketing engines to be weaponized will see more light of day. But much of it will also come from leaders in all parts of our industry who consciously make the choice to do a gut check on whether their company is making the long-term choices it needs to make to truly build a more informed, empathetic, and inclusive society.

They’ll need to make some tough, uncomfortable stands within their own organizations to ensure they choose a strategy that will build a stronger democracy. They’ll need to look beyond advertising at scale to deeper, more honest relationships with their users. They’ll need to finally realize that they are the very definition of a modern media company.

Those who take the long view will suffer short-term setbacks in quarterly financial performance, but they’ll set their companies on a track that builds valuable long-term equity and will establish themselves as critical institutions that amplify our democratic values and norms.

2018 will be the year when each and every one of us has to choose. Will we take the easy path and roll with it when the empire strikes back? Or will we choose to make a stand? To be uncomfortable. To risk short-term failure for immortal success. To be a Rebelpreneur.

Corey Ford is cofounder and managing director of Matter Ventures.

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

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

Jake Levine   The return to now

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

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

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

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

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

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

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

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

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

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

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

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

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

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

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

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

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

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Burt Herman   Things get real

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

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

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Paul Ford   Go global

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

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

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

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

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

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

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

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

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

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

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won