2
0
1
9

The year of actionable (local) journalism

“There’s a lot of information out there. So what can the average information consumer do with it all?”

2019 will be the year that audiences demand journalism they can act on (and ignore everything else).

Actionable journalism has a measurable impact on audience behaviors. It allows people to make better decisions, like deciding who to vote for in state elections how to adapt a commute to traffic conditions, or even where to eat for dinner. More importantly, it provides more value to audiences than information that is just entertaining or informative.

It’s no secret that the average information consumer is inundated with countless pieces of journalism and, by orders of magnitude, even more pieces of content designed to capture her attention in the moments she is on her phone: listening to her podcasts, scrolling through social media feeds, catching up on email, and browsing through her preferred apps.

In 2018 it is estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytesof data are created each day. (“Quintillion” has six more zeroes than one trillion and is a unit usually relegated to describing things like how many molecules are in the human brain.) Basically, there’s a lot of information out there. So what can the average information consumer do with it all?

Not much. A lot of the information doesn’t make sense. If it does make sense, the information is usually entertaining. Sometimes it’s informative.

It’s not that information that is entertaining or informative is bad, there’s just too much of it. Today’s methods of content distribution over Facebook and social media favor mass distribution to go viral (and make more data), instead of individual distribution to the audience segment that can benefit from that information.

Consumers have to work on their own, with very little help from media publishers and platforms, to separate information that is just entertaining or informative and find the information that is actionable in their day-to-day lives. This is the information that is most useful, and the information that will win consumer attention and loyalty over time.

Two important consumer behaviors observed in 2018 tell us that consumer information needs are becoming increasingly local.

First, the 2018 midterm elections had the highest turnoutsince 1914. 49.3% of the voting-eligible population voted in the election, ending a decline in midterm election turnout that began in 2010 and recorded only 36.7% turnout in 2014.

Second, Americans spent $3.02 billion during Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving where shoppers are encouraged to take their business to independently owned stores in their communities across the country.

The above numbers suggest a specific consumer behavior that probably has always existed, but was obscured by the Internet’s ability to erase geography. The Internet created and incentivized content that could be appealing and engaging to people across cities, states, and countries. All the while people remained active in their local communities, being impacted by, and impacting their, local government, local businesses, local services, and local environment.

And it’s information on these four things, at the local level — government, businesses, services, and environment — that is universally actionable for audience segments throughout their day-to-day lives.

The question is, can we meet this demand?

In 2019 publishers and platforms will have to pay more attention to information distribution, and not information creation. We’re not lacking any of the data needed to report on local government, businesses, services, and environment. But we are lacking the ability to precisely distribute the information we have to the right people who need it.

Each individual in our audiences makes thousands of decisions in their day-to-day. Whoever can send each individual information that will help them make these decisions better will be able to earn the lasting trust and business of audiences for years to come.

Geetika Rudra is a former reporter and founder/CEO of www.theblock.blog.

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

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

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

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

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

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

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

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

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

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

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

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

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

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

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

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

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

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

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

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

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

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

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

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

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

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

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

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

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

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

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

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

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

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

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

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

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

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

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

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

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

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

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

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

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

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

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

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

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

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

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

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

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

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

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

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

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

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

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Kevin D. Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

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

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

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

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

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

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

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

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Hearken   Pivot to people

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

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

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

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

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news