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Seriously: What do you do for people?

“We talk constantly about pageviews and engagement rates, circulation stats and Nielsen ratings, subscriptions and donation rates, but all that happens when we successfully offer something to human beings that is of value to them.”

In 2019, we will be asking: “What do we do for people?” And I don’t mean writing some piece-of-corporate-hogwash mission statement full of buzzwords no one understands. I mean we’ll be getting clear about what it is you give your readers, listeners, or viewers. Journalism outlets, journalists, and everyone who works for an organization that does journalism needs to know what they are doing for people.

We talk constantly about pageviews and engagement rates, circulation stats and Nielsen ratings, subscriptions and donation rates, but all that happens when we successfully offer something to human beings that is of value to them. Knowing what we do for people also keeps us clear about why we are doing what we are doing. It helps us know whether we are doing things for the right reasons.

My team uses the NPR One algorithm to personalize and localize podcasts and public radio content on a variety of platforms, from smart speakers to cable boxes. Personalization gets a bad rap for creating filter bubbles, but editorial algorithms can also be used to try to widen people’s horizons, as well by exposing them to other points of view. The team that works on the NPR One systems is very clear that we use the algorithm to get our listeners a blend of localized news and a dose of serendipity that expands their understanding of their community, country, and world.

When I was in charge of content at Michigan Radio, we thought about our role as helping people “understand their state.” It was a literal statement about helping people understand what was happening in the state of Michigan, and a metaphorical statement about helping them understand their personal state as a citizen of the world. We chose what to cover, what to air, and what community conversations to participate in based on whether it would in fact help people understand their state.

Likewise, NPR, PRX, and a number of member stations are working on a project called “Culture of Journalism.” It’s an effort to ensure that everyone in public media is adhering to common ethics and values. But ultimately it’s really about encouraging stations and journalism creators in public media to do things because it helps create trustworthy journalism for our audience, rather than because it feathers our personal or organizational nests.

Our industry faces so many challenges — the political powers that be, financial pressures as our business models evolve, technology shifts, and new competition. In 2019, I’d argue the most powerful tool we have is knowing very clearly what it is we are trying to do for our audience. That way they too will be clear about what they can expect and value from us. Something that becomes even more important as people get their information by asking Alexa, Google, Siri, or Bixby for it.

Tamar Charney is managing editor of NPR One.

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

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

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

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

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

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

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

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

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

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

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

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

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

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

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

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

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

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

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

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

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

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

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

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

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

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

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

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

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

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

Hearken   Pivot to people

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

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

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

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

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

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

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

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

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

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

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

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

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

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

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

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

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

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

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

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

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

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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

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

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

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

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

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

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

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

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

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

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

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

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

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

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

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

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

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

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?