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The year of the culturally relevant curator

“May the playing field truly flatten.”

There is a confluence of phenomena happening in media, journalism, and the digital world that is opening a lane for a particular type of media professional to thrive. In 2019, we will see a rise in curators that are culturally relevant to their community audience. They will be able to avoid having to rely on ad revenue for funding and be independent from social platforms for their primary engagement.

These digitally savvy players will give context to the news flying around the net to people who gravitate and identify with them. Curators will be able to grow a deeply engaged following without having to develop their own content, but rather by discovering and distributing the best of what exists and adding their perspective for their communities. And they will build and maintain these groups on platforms they control. Here’s where we are:

Eroding trust: Confidence in social platforms is eroding among both users and creators. Users are skeptical about how their data is being leveraged and how they may be targeted. Content makers and publishers increasingly distrust building their followings on platforms that may be reporting inflated metrics and can change the dynamic for how they can engage with their followers.

Marginalized audience: Mainstream news outlets are still at all-time low levels of trust, especially with marginalized groups. Whether real or imagined diminishment, these groups distrust traditional news outlets, claiming they’re biased against them. They continue to seek stories that cover their communities, from a perspective that they respect and they feel understands them.

Overwhelming options: Readers and viewers of digital content in the form of articles, images, memes, tweets, video clips, live video, GIFs, and so on feel overwhelmed with the abundance of information and choices that increase year after year.

Paying for content: There is a rising comfort with paying for digital content, whether as memberships or subscriptions, particularly for organizations that align with the worldview or touch upon a salient identity of their supporters.

Direct and authentic engagement: More and more, publications and personalities are enlisting email newsletters to directly engage with their fans. Along with this is a rise in the use of the podcasts medium — a decentralized format content creators can use to build better one-on-one and authentic relationships with their audiences through engaging hosts. Email and other options also ensure that being banned or censored by a social media platform will not destroy the main engagement channel of the content creator.

Easy payment options: One-time donations and month-to-month subscriptions to content from individuals is also on the rise, as observed by the increase of social media personalities with links on their social profiles or YouTube live broadcasts allowing their followers to send funds or to join their Patreon campaigns.

All of these factors create an opportunity for journalists and media players who thrive with curation to build communities in digital spaces that they control. They will be able to leverage the vast and abundant amount of content available and use social platforms to promote their existence. They will ultimately use both to offer the value of their culturally relevant perspective and build trust amongst their following. And they will be able to maintain, thrive, and grow from the funding and support of their community audience.

This occurrence could be especially encouraging for large groups of marginalized people, who are routinely mischaracterized and stereotyped in mainstream media and the storytellers, like myself, who are working to serve large audience communities but find it difficult to be heard in the mainstream and to fund our work.

May the playing field truly flatten.

Michael Rain is at TED Resident and the creator of The ENODI Project.

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

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

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

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

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

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

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

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

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

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

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

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

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

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

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

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

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

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

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

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

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

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

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

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

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

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

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

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

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

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

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

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

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

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

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

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

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

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

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

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

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

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

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

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

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

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

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

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

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

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

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

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

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

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

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

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

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

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

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

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

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

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

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Hearken   Pivot to people

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

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

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

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

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

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

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

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

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

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

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact