The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

“It is increasingly clear that the operation of the platforms, both from an antitrust perspective and even more importantly from the perspective of democratic governance, has received remarkably little scrutiny.”

The relationship between publishers of news and the digital platforms (especially Facebook and Google) has been fraught for almost a decade. The platforms, leveraging their sheer scale, have seized ever-greater shares of digital advertising revenue and contributed mightily to the collapse of advertising prices by stimulating the supply of advertising opportunities at a rate faster than the demand for it could ever grow. At the same time, the platforms have also driven huge amounts of traffic to the publishers — accentuating the paradox of growing audiences accompanied by falling profits.

All of this may well approach a crisis point in the year ahead. The crisis, if there is one building, began with the revelations, just after the election, of how the platforms, and especially Facebook, had been employed by the Russian government and the Trump campaign, possibly in collusion, to disseminate what has come to be called “fake news.” But the problem goes beyond that.

It is increasingly clear that the operation of the platforms, both from an antitrust perspective and even more importantly from the perspective of democratic governance, has received remarkably little scrutiny. And it seems unfortunately also true that their executives, particularly at Facebook, feel very little impulse for accountability until confronted publicly.

This all puts enormous pressure on journalists to do their job in holding these enormous enterprises to the standards of decency, legality, and democratic practice that we are all entitled to expect of the nation’s most profitable companies. Some work of this sort is being done. We need more. Journalists would do well to recognize the commercial impulses limiting such inquiries — and not to let that deter them. For the sake of all of us, moreover, they need to do this work before it is too late.

Richard J. Tofel is president of ProPublica.

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

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

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

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

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

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

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

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

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

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Jake Levine   The return to now

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

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

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

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

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

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

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Burt Herman   Things get real

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

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

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

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

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

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

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

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

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

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

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

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

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Paul Ford   Go global

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

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

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

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

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach