2
0
1
9

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

“What can we learn from artists about conveying emotional truths that drive human decision-making? In a world of growing tribalism and skepticism about reported facts, helping people understand the world increasingly means helping people understand others’ feelings as well as their reasoning.”

2019 will be the year we look to more unusual places outside of journalism for inspiration and collaboration.

We’ve learned from software development practices as we transform from newspapers, radio, and TV stations into digital media companies. This has brought audience analytics, project management, and A/B testing into newsrooms.

But as even the biggest tech companies are starting to discover, there are larger issues than just how to reach, monetize, and retain users. How do we convene civic spaces, or ones that further human connection? What motivates learning and curiosity, to ward against disinformation? How do we study and change our own organizational cultures?

These are questions for journalism that technology does not have the answers for. So we must look to adjacent fields: game design, ethnography, theater development, and others. These disciplines have relevant research, tools, and crucially, people who want to help journalism survive and thrive.

Here are some paths to explore in 2019:

Community engagement

What can we learn from public arts about how to connect, represent, and convene communities? How do we move beyond journalism that “targets” and “reaches out to” pre-existing communities, to journalism that builds communities?

Public arts organisations have long grappled with similar questions. For example, Claire Doherty came up with “The New Rules of Public Art” to challenge how public art is commissioned and created.

Engage-ability

What can we learn from game designers about how people become curious and interested, learn, and remain in flow? For example, by drawing from the insights Celia Hodent used in teaching more than 200 million people how to play Fortnite through designing the in-game tutorial.

Organizational change

What can we learn about the digital transformation of newsrooms from policy researchers studying how practices are formed and can be changed?

AnneMarie Dorland, at the University of Calgary’s Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, once reminded me that incentives only affect the activities and performance of work. Changing the social practice of work (e.g. changing what it means to “write” a story when text isn’t primary) requires reassembling the practice itself.

Emotional truths

What can we learn from artists about conveying emotional truths that drive human decision-making? In a world of growing tribalism and skepticism about reported facts, helping people understand the world increasingly means helping people understand others’ feelings as well as their reasoning.

Can we learn from and work with poets, musicians, and theater makers to present journalism through poetry readings, music videos, and live performances?

Reporting

What can we learn about ethnographic techniques from cultural anthropologists like Mike Youngblood to further our reporting skills? For example, the use of observational research techniques to quickly create data sets when doing in-the-field reporting. Or how sociologist Sam Ladner makes consistent effort to return to her field notes to reduce and synthesise them, making them more useful over time.

Fanbases

As subscription and membership models become more popular, what can we learn from sports teams and churches about building, supporting, and growing a loyal following?

Identity construction

What can we learn from fashion designers about our role and responsibilities in shaping people’s self-identity? People buy and carry the Financial Times newspaper in public in the same way they wear clothes to express and communicate who they are. But what about in digital and online spaces?

Transformative experiences

As conferences and events become a growing revenue source, they also become an opportunity to establish deeper connections with our audience. What can we learn from experience designers about how to create transformative and meaningful social encounters?

Trust

What can we learn about rebuilding trust in the media from people who work in conflict resolution and mediation?

Information architecture

What can we learn from librarians, architects, and museum curators about how we design the information architecture and “user journeys” of our news apps and websites?

We enriched our journalism when we invited programmers, digital designers, and data analysts into newsrooms. Along the way, we coined the term “news nerds” to describe people who work at the intersection of journalism and technology.

We now face different challenges and need help from people with different expertise. It’s time we expanded the definition of “news nerds” to also include people working at the intersection of journalism and art, education, organizational design, and many other disciplines.

Robin Kwong is head of digital delivery at the Financial Times.

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

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

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

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

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

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

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

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

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

Hearken   Pivot to people

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

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

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

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

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

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

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

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

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

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

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

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

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

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

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

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

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

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

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

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

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

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

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

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

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

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

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

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

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

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

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

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

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

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

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

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

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

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

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

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

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

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

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

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

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

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

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

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

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

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

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

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

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

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

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

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

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

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

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

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

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

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

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

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

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

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

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

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know