The year journalists become relationship builders

“This year, a meaningful number of journalists will understand that their deeply encoded aloofness to the public is really the mutation that’s afflicting journalism — and they will begin to rethink and recode their work as both reporters and relationship-builders.”

Journalists have a distant, fraught relationship with “the public.”

As a young journalist, you learn by osmosis that the public is who you seek out for quotes, local color, “man on the street” colloquialisms. The public is who calls in to your show, comments on your stories, turns up at events.

Sometimes what the public says is angry, or rude, or racist, or homophobic. Occasionally, it’s poignant or wise. But on balance, the public is seen as unpredictable, untrustworthy.

We are taught not to be part of the public, but to stand apart from the public. To paraphrase Edna St. Vincent Millay, journalists can love humanity, but hate people.

This year, a meaningful number of journalists will understand that their deeply encoded aloofness to the public is really the mutation that’s afflicting journalism — and they will begin to rethink and recode their work as both reporters and relationship-builders.

Business imperatives will require it. The momentum will continue to rapidly shift away from ad-based models for supporting journalism to memberships and subscriptions. Each piece of content we create, then, becomes less a bid for eyeballs and more an opportunity to create trust, loyalty, and a feeling of being served by journalism (vs. entertained, scared, titillated, or enraged).

More fledgling and startup projects like Discourse Media in Canada; De Correspondent’s new U.S. offering, The Correspondent; Outlier Media in Detroit; and Reach NC Voices in North Carolina will nimbly experiment with relationship-building approaches, ultimately showing slower-moving “legacy” media how it’s done in the service of journalism and the longer-term sustainability of our work.

More established outlets like ProPublica, The Guardian, and The Texas Tribune will refine and spread new metrics — knowing that you only get what you measure — to reorient newsroom reward structures around building deeper relationships with smaller communities vs. larger but less engaged drive-by audiences.

More audience members (a.k.a. the public), who increasingly expect personalization and localization in all of their online commerce, will get frustrated when — like everyone else — they get a standard form email to renew a subscription to a news organization whose stories they have commented on, whose personalities feel almost like friends and whose work they feel personally invested in.

They might ask: “Who do they think I am?” Good question.

Andrew Haeg is founder and CEO of GroundSource.

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

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

Jake Levine   The return to now

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

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

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

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

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

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

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

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

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

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Paul Ford   Go global

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

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

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

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

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

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

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

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

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

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

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

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

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

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

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

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

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

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

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

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

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

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

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Burt Herman   Things get real

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed