2
0
1
9

Entering a more balanced era

“Subscriptions are not salvation. But a diversified digital revenue mix for publishers, with quality advertising and reader monetization at its core, might be.”

Publishers need platforms. They benefit from, and pay for, advertising and technological solutions from Google and Amazon. They use Facebook and Twitter to reach new audiences and sample our work. But they came back from the dead only by inches, after the Zombie Platform Race of the post-2008 crisis years. So 2019 should be year 1 of a new journalistic heterodoxy that has been breeding on different fronts, to succeed the platform orthodoxy of the past years. And that is excellent news for all — Big Tech included.

During the platform orthodoxy period, publishers optimized themselves for distributing their content and increasing reach. They desperately sought to be loved by the platforms. And they measured success, and the impact of their day-to-day journalism, with quantitative metrics. It was probably rational because journalism and advertising go hand in hand and will always. But it became unreasonable, given the negative impact it had on their journalism and their business model. It hindered their position in the market, and in society. Many factors have triggered the ongoing realignment — a new journalism-centric digital orthodoxy — between information, revenue, and technology. In the U.S., there’s Trump and the #fakenews debate. In Europe, there’s the end of a decade-long crisis and the EU’s regulatory actions in the digital market.

If I had to pinpoint a single variable to explain the transition from a platform-centric paradigm to a journalism-centric one, it’d be Facebook’s relative decoupling from news. A new, more balanced era has arrived. And we should celebrate…and carry on. We’re optimizing ourselves to be a destination again, with newsletters, subscriptions, editorial marketing, and good (new) old journalism. We now seek the love of our most loyal readers first, while we work to remain popular in the social village. And we measure success with more complex models, better introducing quality, impact and attention in the mix.

The debate around metrics and analytics for our industry has been one of the most fascinating and crucial in this challenging journey. But it is the universalization of the subscriptions or membership models that enshrines the greatest potential of this new journalism-led digital orthodoxy. Subscriptions are not salvation. But a diversified digital revenue mix for publishers, with quality advertising and reader monetization at its core, might be.

Users are not readers are not citizens. We need to be good at capturing users to feed our growth, advertising revenues and ranking positions. But we also need to excel at keeping loyal news readers coming back and logging themselves into our sites. Most crucially, we need to nourish and cherish our position before the increasingly critical citizenship of the societies we serve.

At Vocento, all of our local and regional newspapers will be offering a subscription proposition to their communities of readers by the end of next year. In 2019, it’s expected that others in the Spanish national press will join the movement. It’s changing our daily news menu, the way our newsrooms work, and the role our editors and reporters play. It’s made us better at handling big data and catering to our readers’ and customers’ needs. And it’s bringing revenue home, with more and more citizens in cities around the country paying to be well-informed. Isn’t it great that it’s all about journalism… again?

Borja Bergareche is the chief innovation officer at Vocento.

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

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

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

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

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

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

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

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

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

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

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

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

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

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

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

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

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

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

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

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

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

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

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

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

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

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

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

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

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

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

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

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

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

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

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

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

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

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

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

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

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

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

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

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

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

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

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

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

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

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

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

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

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

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

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

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

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

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

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

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

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

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Hearken   Pivot to people

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

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

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

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

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

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

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

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

Greg Emerson   Power to the user