2
0
1
9

We are responsible for how we use our power

“We must collaborate on rewriting the power dynamics between newsrooms and each other, our audiences and those we seek to hold accountable.”

Newsrooms are examining their relationships with each other, with audiences and with those we seek to hold accountable with a new sense of urgency, need and vulnerability. The time of surviving without the explicit support and trust of the public is over. The time of being able to do the work that we need to do in isolation from one another is over. The time in which we endeavor to both serve society and default to centering reporting around the interests or perspectives of the most powerful is long past due for being over.

Since Acta Diurna we’ve focused on news about the world around us — stories about crime, politics, international diplomacy, war, economies and labor, science and arts and in each of these subjects, the people at the center of the issues at hand. We create stories that have a cast of characters and a plot, told with the intention to inform or provoke. This structure does not serve all of our audiences. It leaves behind vulnerable and marginalized communities. It ignores the reality of many people.

We must collaborate on rewriting the power dynamics between newsrooms and each other, our audiences and those we seek to hold accountable.

To start, we need to replace the traditional process of “Reporting About” with intentional practices that take into account the respective power of the people involved.

For + With > About

Instead of considering only the object of the reporting, we must consider the greater context.

Each piece of reporting should be contemplated in terms of power and representation, so that the those with the least amount of power and whom are represented or affected by what the reporting is “About” are always part of “For” or “With”?

To pretend power and influence has nothing to do with our work is to be recklessly naive about how the world works and how journalism plays a role in enabling or exposing how power is wielded in our societies.

If we start from the place of who we are reporting for and who we are including in that reporting, we reduce our chances in excluding those with the least power from the conversations around issues they are most affected by.

For example, if a newsroom wanted to cover economic hardship, many newsrooms would still follow this general editorial process:

  • Decide that’s the topic to be reported about;
  • Find some numbers and statistics to convey the scope of the issue;
  • Interview an expert or two (most likely academics) about the topic;
  • Interview political figures (most likely ones that disagree with each other on how to address the issue or whether the issue even needs to be addressed);
  • Interview a few people experiencing economic hardship in order to have colorful quotes to illustrate the story (likely accompanied by imagery that slightly or explicitly verges on exploitation);
  • Publish the story.

What if instead, the process was more like this:

A newsroom responds to a need or request for reporting about economic hardship because it’s in the best interest of the audience or society. From there, the process is answering three questions.

Who is the reporting for?

  • Is it meant to help people experiencing hardship navigate their situation better?
  • Is it meant to inform and persuade people with some form of social, political or economic capital to engage with the problem and participate in addressing the issue?
  • Is it meant to inform the general public to create a more knowledgeable electorate and community that can engage with the issue in whatever form they choose?

Who should this reporting be done with?

  • Who is most directly affected by the issue and how can they contribute to the reporting?
  • Who has the most power or influence over this issue and should be asked to account for how that power or influence is being used?
  • Who has unique or valuable expertise to contribute to a fuller understanding of the issue and potential solutions?
  • Are there other newsrooms or potential partners that can be partnered with to better serve the reporting?

And ultimately, are you prioritizing those who are disempowered over those who are empowered?

What does the reporting need to be about to serve who the story is for?

  • What questions should be answered (or maybe just posed) by this reporting?
  • Who is centered in the coverage?

This is likely not the final version of this formula, but it’s a start in reorienting what we do so that we serve the needs of our audiences and societies rather than entrenched powers.

The intersection of capital “J” Journalism — the institution of service and information that we’ve protected because it’s essential to society — and journalism-the-industry has created a complicated information ecosystem that has left our audiences and our societal institutions vulnerable. Our decisions as reporters and as organizations must reflect not only our commitment to the ideals of journalism, but also our role in the power dynamics of our societies and the accountability required of an institution as powerful as ours. In the coming year, we will be held to a higher standard for editorial decisions, organizational affiliations and use of our power — and we should be.

Heather Bryant is the founder and director of Project Facet.

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

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

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

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

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

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

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

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

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

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

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

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

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

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

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

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

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

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

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

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

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

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

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

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

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

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

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

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

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

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

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

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

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

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

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

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

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

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

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

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

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

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

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

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

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

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

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

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

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

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

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

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

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

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

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

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

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

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

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

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

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

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

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

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

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Hearken   Pivot to people

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

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

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

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

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

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

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

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

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

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