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.

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Burt Herman   Things get real

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

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

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

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

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

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

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Paul Ford   Go global

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

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

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

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

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

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

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

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

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

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Jake Levine   The return to now

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

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

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

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

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

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

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

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

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

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

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

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

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

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

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

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

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

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers