2
0
1
9

The year product leads media

“We will start to see more senior leadership in news organizations that comes from design, product, and technology backgrounds.”

In 2018, we’ve seen the acceleration of trends in which older, advertising-centric, scale-driven media models are becoming less and less sustainable, while user-centered, product-focused approaches gain traction. Looking forward, 2019 may well be the year when product-led media moves from the fringes to achieve true significance and maturity.

In recent years, we’ve seen dependence on massive scale become less feasible for many media organizations, especially as platforms like Facebook have deprioritized news items in their algorithms. In turn, advertising models that largely depend on that scale are becoming similarly implausible. These two trends are most starkly depicted in Verizon’s explanation for its abysmal valuation of its Oath media properties.

In parallel, there has been positive growth and engagement in areas that take a more product oriented approach to news, focusing on user needs in a more narrow and thoughtful way. We see this in the rise of products that develop a deeper relationship between journalists and audiences around niche topics, like podcasts and newsletters, as well as in service-oriented media products that support user needs around particular areas of their lives, like cooking or wellness. These initiatives provide better paths to success in two ways. First, they focus on cultivating specific audiences that can then be sold to advertisers while respecting the privacy and data rights of those readers. Second, strong relationships between publishers and readers can lead to natural subscription or membership models based on both product value and an affinity to a brand.

This shift has been challenging for many media companies because they tend to be led by people with backgrounds in editorial and advertising — practices that are inherently reactive, opportunistic, and ephemeral. Those skills make for good, fast reporting and effective sales pitches, but often do not provide a long-term view of how a product will evolve and grow, improving over time. Successful product development requires a proactive, holistic, and considered process with deep systems thinking. One small change to a product experience can have wide ranging knock-on effects that users have to live with — you can’t simply issue a “correction” for your app and move on.

In 2019 and beyond, it’s likely that we will start to see more senior leadership in news organizations that comes from design, product, and technology backgrounds, to provide the kind of partnership with editorial that will allow for compelling user experiences and media products that can thrive in the years to come. Those that succeed will see their readers as their primary customer base, and not their advertisers.

Alexis Lloyd is the head of design innovation at Automattic. Matt Boggie is CTO at The Skimm.

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

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

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

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

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

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

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

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

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

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

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Hearken   Pivot to people

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

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

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

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

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

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

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

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

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

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

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

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

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

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

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

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

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

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

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

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

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

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

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

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

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

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

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

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

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

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

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

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

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

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

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

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

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

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

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

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

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

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

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

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

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

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

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

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

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

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

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

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

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

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

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

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

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

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

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

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

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

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

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

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

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

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

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

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is