The year of the voter

“What does that look like? It means less reporting from the party and campaign level, more reporting from communities.”

Over the course of 2018, we’ll hear repeatedly how high the stakes are for the midterm elections. Will Republicans lose control of the House? Will Democrats gain seats in the Senate? What do the latest polls say about President Trump’s popularity?

Indeed, elections have consequences. But it’s time for journalists to focus less on horse races and more on the barriers that prevent curious people from getting to the polls.

Many people have busy lives and scarce attention to pay to elections. Often, elections feel like something that happens to people, not a tool designed to help them. As journalists, we can and should help shrink the political process — impersonal and remote — into something tangible and resonant.

What does that look like? It means less reporting from the party and campaign level, more reporting from communities. It requires us to drop assumptions about what voters should care about and instead observe and listen for their unmet information needs. It means producing coverage that not only explains and informs, but entertains and connects emotionally.

Here’s how you could do it: Dispatch your reporters to neighborhoods where turnout has traditionally been low. Talk to people who have never voted and talk to people who show up to the polls without fail. Ask them about their experiences. What do they know about their elected officials and how do they know it? What does “good governing” look and feel like? How do they feel about voting and why do they feel that way?

Review all the answers and look for commonalities across the groups. Brainstorm different kinds of stories and information you could provide to help them connect more to the process. Experiment. Make something new. Rinse. Repeat.

Media organizations that can truly meet voters where they are — and can help them make an informed decision on the ballot — will not only win the day, but can help to fulfill the promise of a free press in a democratic society.

Kristen Muller is chief content officer of Southern California Public Radio.

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Paul Ford   Go global

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

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

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

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

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

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

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

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

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

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

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

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

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

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

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

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Burt Herman   Things get real

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

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

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

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

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

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

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

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

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

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

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

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

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Jake Levine   The return to now

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

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

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

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

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories