2
0
1
9

The year you actually start to like your CMS

“If we do it right, users benefit from a feedback loop that helps make our work more valuable and relevant to them. And no journalist ever again has to wear their clunky CMS as a badge of honor.”

Nobody loves their content management system. It’s a stubborn truism that’s persisted over the 20-plus years I’ve worked in digital journalism. Not long ago, it was practically sport to compete with friends in other organizations to see whose was the worst. (“Oh yeah? Well, mine can’t even do hyperlinks right!”)

But it’s not just journalists who have been let down by these tools over the years. They’ve failed audiences too: Nearly two decades after Dan Gillmor first wrote that “my readers know more than I do,” the software most journalists use to author, edit and curate content is still surprisingly reader-indifferent. And while content analytics tools (e.g., Chartbeat, Parsely, Content Insights) and feedback platforms (e.g., Hearken, GroundSource) have thankfully helped close the gap, the core content management experience remains, for most of us, little improved when it comes to including the audience in the process.

Fortunately, this is changing. The CMS is no longer just an empty vessel that carries content on a one-way trip from creator to consumer. Today’s leading-edge content tools are integrated context, collaboration and insight machines. We’re moving from unidirectional publishing of articles to organizing all our work and closing the feedback loop with our customers. I call this “full-stack publishing”.

Some things your tools will soon do for you — if they don’t already:

  • Automatically find and link relevant background material.
  • Suggest topics and contextualize newly created content as part of a bigger story arc, when relevant.
  • Show which topics, story forms and content types, in the aggregate, are resonating with priority audience segments and help you take action based on that info.
  • Dynamically alert you when there’s potential for promoting your work on other platforms and help you prioritize those efforts.
  • Keep track of the things you’ve published, show you how they’re doing with key audiences and suggest follow-up opportunities.
  • Call out popular evergreen content that could use freshening.
  • Run headline tests and other content experiments directly from the authoring and curation environment.
  • Identify missed opportunities and help you find out where your content fell flat with readers.
  • Enable the creation of mobile-first multimedia narratives and other non-text story forms.
  • Help you productively interact with your audiences and help them inform your coverage.
  • Calculate — at the staff, team and individual level — effort spent on things that don’t serve audiences well (thereby helping you devote more time to the things that do).
  • Elevate your phone from in-the-field last resort to full-fledged content creation and management tool, because the best device is the one you have with you.

Here at the USA Today Network we’re excited about building capabilities such as these into Presto, our proprietary content platform, and helping to unlock the unique collaborative potential of the thousands of journalists in our newsrooms across the country.

But sophisticated tools are no longer the sole domain of organizations with the scale and budget to roll their own. The power of both The Washington Post’s Arc Publishing and Vox Media’s Chorus is available to external customers. And WordPress, which long ago transcended its humble blogging origins, is sporting ever more advanced capabilities, thanks to a dedicated community supported by Automattic and the work of publisher-friendly dev shops such as Alley Interactive and 10up.

Good competition in this space means we all benefit. Together, we can make content tools a force multiplier for great journalism rather than the impediment they’ve often been in the past.

If we do it right, users benefit from a feedback loop that helps make our work more valuable and relevant to them. And no journalist ever again has to wear their clunky CMS as a badge of honor.

Eric Ulken, a veteran digital editor and product leader, is product director for newsroom tools at the USA TODAY NETWORK.

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

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

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

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

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

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

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

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

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

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

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

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

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

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

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

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

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

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

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

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

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

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

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

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

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

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

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

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

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

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

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

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

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

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

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

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

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Hearken   Pivot to people

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

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

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

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

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

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

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

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

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

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

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

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

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

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

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

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

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

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

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

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

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

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

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

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

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

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

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

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

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

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

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

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

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

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

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

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

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

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera