2
0
1
9

Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

“I think the end of 2018 is the top of the rollercoaster track. The descent, which we are not ready for, is going to involve a lot of screaming as we hurtle towards Brexit in 2019 and the 2020 U.S. elections.”

Predictions feel like an odd thing to do, especially when the forecast is greyer and gloomier than the current climate. Nonetheless, I will attempt to provide a prediction about the future of news and journalism in the U.S. and U.K. in 2019. I’ve often been accused of trading in gloom and doom, so in keeping with my reputation as a doom and gloom merchant, 2019 is going to be a struggle for media organizations in both countries.

The one factor tying all of these predictions together is the contraction of democratic space and the political rollercoaster the past few years have been. In one of my favorite tracks (“The Matrimony”) by Wale, Jerry Seinfeld talks of life as a rollercoaster and once you’re at the top, all you can do is scream as you rapidly descend. Partly because you’re not ready for it, and partly because there’s no way to adequately prepare for the drop.

I think the end of 2018 is the top of the rollercoaster track. The descent, which we are not ready for, is going to involve a lot of screaming as we hurtle towards Brexit in 2019 and the 2020 U.S. elections.

Within the traditional media space, we can see the speed with which news and journalism have been co-opted by the state in recent years. In the U.S., after two years of covering the new political dispensation, news organizations have shown breathtaking naiveté in how to approach their new reality. From the constant coverage of every new controversial tweet to Jim Acosta’s banishment from the White House Briefing Room, journalism in the U.S. has continually shown its level of maladroitness in covering an administration that is both hostile to its very existence and adept at manipulating it into covering manufactured crises. In the U.K., we have seen news organizations struggle in their coverage of both Brexit and Facebook’s nefarious activities. One only needs to look at the fascinating work by Carole Cadwalladr (and her twitter timeline, @carolecadwalla) to see how much trouble audiences in the U.K. are in. As the BBC, much like The New York Times, insists on presenting fringe racist and fascist ideas as “worth debating,” we see the expansion of fringe right-wing, racist, sexist, fascist echo chambers into organizations once revered as trustworthy, objective, and models for others to emulate. What we have seen is a steady weaponization of what Whitney Phillips calls “both sides-ism” by savvy fringe voices. In this moment of political crises in both countries, organizations have found themselves either scrambling to make sense of the world using approaches completely not suitable for the current reality or becoming too deferential to the state.

This is only going to get worse in 2019. Lies and factual inaccuracies will be presented as legitimate voices from “the other side.” One only need to look at climate change coverage in both countries, or even the rise of ignoble characters like Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos (in the U.S.) and Tommy Robinson (in the U.K.). Superfluous nods to “objectivity” will continue to be manipulated by the fringes to make sure they have a voice in legacy media. But perhaps the most disheartening thing will be the fact that the state, in both countries, will continue to use its privileged space in the media ecology to manipulate the narrative construction.

Unless journalists decide to take a stand and rethink the current status quo, 2019 will be darker and gloomier. If you think 2018 was bad, my advice for 2019 is to buckle up, because it’s going to be even bumpier. To audiences, my advice is the maxim caveat emptor. The daily deluge of panic-driven, vacuous, news coverage is about to shift into high gear.

james Wahutu is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and will be an assistant professor at NYU in 2019.

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

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

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

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

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

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

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

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

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

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

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Hearken   Pivot to people

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

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

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

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

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

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

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

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

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

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

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

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

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

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

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

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

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

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

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

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

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

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

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

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

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

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

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

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

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

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

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

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

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

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

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

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

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

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

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

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

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

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

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

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

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

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

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

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

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

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

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

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

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

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

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

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

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

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

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

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

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times