2
0
1
9

Personal branding is more powerful than ever

“The exponential rise of influencer culture has shown how powerful having your own audience online can be.”

As the media landscape becomes increasingly unstable and outlets struggle to find viable business models, I predict that more journalists will begin to prioritize their personal brands. Savvy journalists will work to establish strong online identities, grow a large and dedicated followings, and develop custom distribution systems for their work.

The notion of leveraging social platforms to grow a successful personal brand is not wholly new. Journalists like Ezra Klein, Bill Simmons, and Nate Silver all leveraged their personal audiences and large followings to build media empires of their own. But 2019 will show that this next breed of journalist-influencers doesn’t need an audience of millions to obtain a competitive edge.

As a journalist, building a large and loyal following is a critical way to shield yourself from volatility in the industry. Having a tailored audience who is interested in your work is valuable to media companies who have seen previous mechanisms of distribution (like Facebook) evaporate. Building a strong personal connection with your audience is also a hedge against consumers’ growing mistrust of the media. Readers may be broadly skeptical of The New York Times, for instance, but still follow and read particular reporters there who they find credible.

The good news for journalists is that they won’t have to morph into shameless self promoters or tweet incessantly to grow their own audiences. Following this model could mean building a successful newsletter that becomes indispensable to readers (like Casey Newton’s The Interface). Or it could entail creating a successful independent podcast, YouTube channel, or even an Instagram account that extends your brand.

The exponential rise of influencer culture has shown how powerful having your own audience online can be. I predict that in 2019 more journalists will recognize and harness this opportunity.

Taylor Lorenz is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

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

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

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

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

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

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

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

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

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

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

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

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

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

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

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

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

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

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

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

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

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

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

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

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

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

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

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

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

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

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

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

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

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

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

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

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

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

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

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

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

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

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

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

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

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

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

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

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

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

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

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

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

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

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

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

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

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

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

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

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

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

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

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

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

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

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

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

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Hearken   Pivot to people

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

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

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure