2
0
1
9

Doing less harm, not just more good

“Doing good entangles us with moral righteousness, the problematic ‘giving voice to the voiceless.’ Doing less harm instead means understanding how we have conditioned ourselves out of listening to those voices.”

A few weeks ago, my best friend of 18 years, Lisa Kim, posed a question: “What if we told people to do less harm instead of more good?”

In that moment, Lisa, a true Aquarius, made sense of 2018’s noise for me. Because amid all the talk of reimagining journalism, I’m not sure we’re doing less harm. Less harm ultimately means we must slow down, listen, and reflect.

In 2019, we will have that choice, to create a culture of engagement framed around doing less harm, not more good.

We’ve seen news organizations hire engagement reporters and test new tools. But these are the first steps of many. If journalism is to fulfill its function as a public good, we must integrate engagement at every level in our newsrooms. As fellow City Bureau cofounder Darryl Holliday says: “Engagement is like accuracy; it’s a pillar of journalism, not a specialty.” When news organizations concentrate engagement into a singular role, we are perpetuating the idea that one new trend or tool — instead of a systemic overhaul — will save journalism. When we concentrate engagement into a singular role, we also perpetuate a problematic hero complex. So how can your organization engage better? Take inspiration from Taylor Blatchford’s great overview for MediaShift of outlets integrating the practice.

This culture needs to shift from doing more good to less harm so that journalists can reckon with how capitalism has ravaged this industry. Doing less harm means we stop perpetuating the “ideals of acquisitive and achievement-oriented democracy” that Catholic priest Ivan Illich broke down in his 1968 speech, “To Hell with Good Intentions.” It was an address to U.S. volunteers in Mexico who, to him, were perpetuating the “deep dangers of paternalism inherent in any voluntary service activity.”

Paternalism underscores journalists’ training also, resulting in things like parachute reporting.

Think about the demographics of the folks who are often told to do more good. They’re the people Illich addressed, the ones still most represented in newsrooms: my fellow white folks. And the problem with white folks diving into doing good is that we don’t often reflect on the harm of the systems that benefit us.

Journalists must repurpose medicine’s Hippocratic motto: “First, do no harm.” (Yes, I am binge-watching “Grey’s Anatomy” for the first time.) Because the “less” in “do less harm” more correctly captures journalism’s violent history.

Doing good entangles us with moral righteousness, the problematic “giving voice to the voiceless.” Doing less harm instead means understanding how we have, as Ta-Nehisi Coates said in 2010, conditioned ourselves out of listening to those voices.

The humbling of the journalism industry could be a great moment to heal these harms. So if this is our Matrix/Morpheus moment, which pill will you take?

Andrea Faye Hart is cofounder and director of community engagement at City Bureau.

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

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

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

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

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

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

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

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

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

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

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

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

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

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

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Juleyka Lantigua   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

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

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

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

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

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

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

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

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Joshua P. Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Hearken   Pivot to people

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

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

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

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

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

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

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

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

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

j. Siguru Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

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

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

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

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

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

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

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

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

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

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

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

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

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

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

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

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

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

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

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

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

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

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

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

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

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

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

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

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

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

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

Kevin D. Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

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

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

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

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

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

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

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

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

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

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust