2
0
1
9

Catching up with “Neuland”

“While a concerted effort from politics, science, and journalism, as well as the civil society, is needed to find solutions to these thorny and contested issues, journalism in particular stands out as being the central chess piece.”

In 2019, journalism will become more critical, less techno-optimistic, and more self-aware. Indeed, it’s not only a prediction, it’s a necessity. If journalism does not catch up, our public spheres will deteriorate even more.

Back in 2013, in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations about widespread online surveillance, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that the internet was still “Neuland,” terra incognita. She got ridiculed for this statement, which played right into the overarching idea that German politicians were out of touch and didn’t know what was happening online.

But this is not about Germany and German politicians; it would have most likely been the same in the United States (remember “a series of tubes”?). While journalists were slightly nicer about Merkel’s remarks than users online, there was still a healthy portion of snarky how-could-she-even.

The thing is, Merkel was right.

Since then, fake news, misinformation, disinformation, network propaganda, conspiracy theories, bitcoin, bots (good, bad, and neutral), social media and news feed algorithms, filter bubbles and echo chambers, tweetstorms, memes and memetic warfare, doxxing, hate speech, revenge porn, clickfarms, manufactured outrage, de-platforming, quarantining, data breaches, computer hijacking, Cambridge Analytica, and countless discussions around regulating social media accompanied by half-baked laws like NetzDG, as well as the discovery of social media as an integral part of any communication campaign, have all made their way into the public arena. This, of course, is not a finite list, but rather just some examples that are coupled with ongoing deep societal issues and shifts (Brexit, Trump, the rise of the far right, etc.). This is also not to say that all of these are new — not at all. But it’s probably fair to say that these issues are here to stay and will still threaten our public spheres in 2019.

More importantly: We don’t have proper solutions for them. And it’s important to acknowledge that.

While a concerted effort from politics, science, and journalism, as well as the civil society, is needed to find solutions to these thorny and contested issues, journalism in particular stands out as being the central chess piece. Journalism and the role that it plays in setting the agenda and framing the issues have the power to bring the next Cambridge Analytica scandal to light, to give exposure to movements like #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter, while also understanding that not all hashtags need to be amplified, not all shitstorms covered, and that Twitter is just one of many platforms. Indeed, it is time to develop a patient and holistic perspective on the internet and to see the bigger picture in which misinformation, bots, or filter bubbles are issues, yes, but also not the reason why we are where we are politically.

My hope for 2019 is that newsrooms will become more aware of their own role in this networked public sphere — both as observers as well as active actors in fueling whatever the latest fear/trend/hype is. But even more, I hope that journalism has learned some lessons from the last year: It’s okay to be patient, to be critical, to be honest, to wait instead of making an error, to not oversell, to not fall into the both-sides trap. We can talk about disinformation and foreign interference while still acknowledging the bigger picture of online activity to which it contributed. We can talk about white supremacists without giving them a platform. And we can find stories outside of social media — even if nobody seems as informed/snarky as your well-curated Twitter feed. I’ve seen signs that these changes are happening. And I’m hopeful that they will continue in 2019.

In December 2018, Angela Merkel once more spoke about the internet. She talked about a “sphere that we still don’t know a lot about” and then continued “I’ve called this Neuland before…it’s a terrain we’ve not yet fully crossed.” She was right then, she is right now.

Jonas Kaiser is an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and associate researcher at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin.

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

james Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

Hearken   Pivot to people

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences