2
0
1
9

Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

“We need to learn from the mistakes *we made* and collectively build better guardrails for the industry, ensuring that we don’t make these mistakes with large platform partners again.”

For years, I’ve been a Facebook apologist and enabler. I’ve gone to newsroom meetings, conferences, industry talks, and after hours meet-ups, to strategize with others on how news organizations could make the most of Facebook. While the goal of these discussions was almost always to figure out how publishers could increase the reach of their journalism, the undeniable side effect is that while doing this, we helped Facebook build their platform.

Back in the early 2010s, this didn’t seem like such a bad thing. Facebook’s stated mission was to “connect the world”, and newsrooms wanted to inform the world. On the surface, it seemed like a wonderful symbiotic relationship, Facebook gave massive reach to the world’s best newsrooms on the cheap. The dream, of course, being that the world would become a better, more informed, insightful and empathetic place.

Of course, this hasn’t happened. We are living in a perverse and bizarro version of what we had hoped for.

When news organizations sat down and broke bread with Facebook reps, we were pitched on all the brilliant ways Facebook could help us inform readers. Unfortunately, every time a publisher went along with these suggestions, such as implementing a Facebook pixel, uploading a native video, incorporating a Facebook comment box, publishing to Instant Articles, encouraging their readers to share stories on Facebook, or writing intentionally polarizing headlines, it gave Facebook an opportunity to build a higher resolution picture of who that reader was.

This high-resolution picture was then used to drive polarizing content into our readers’ newsfeeds, increase a drug-like addiction to the platform, and potentially change the course of the 2016 election.

The warning signs were always there and we ignored them. I ignored them. It was impossible for newsroom technologists and strategists not to get an inkling that we were contributing to a system that ultimately would end up where it is today. If you played it out in your head, you knew where this could go. We went along with it anyway, because it was good for business, and business was good.

For what it’s worth, I think most, if not all, of Facebookers on the news team truly thought they were doing good, just like us on the publishing side of the equation. I’ve gotten to know a number of these people and can vouch for them being good people caught up in the same mess that we all find ourselves in. They too got caught up in the excitement of building a connected platform like the world had never known and didn’t sufficiently pause to ponder the consequences. To quote Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Over the next 12 months, publishers must come to terms with the fact that we bear a non-trivial level of responsibility in enabling Facebook become what it has. We need to learn from the mistakes *we made* and collectively build better guardrails for the industry, ensuring that we don’t make these mistakes with large platform partners again.

Matt Karolian is director of new initiatives at The Boston Globe.

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

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

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

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

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

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

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

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

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

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

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

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

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

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

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

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

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

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

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

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

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

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

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

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

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

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

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

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

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

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

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

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

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

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

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

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

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

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

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

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

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

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

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

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

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

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

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

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

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

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

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Hearken   Pivot to people

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

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

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

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

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

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

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

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

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

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

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

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

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

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

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

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

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

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