2
0
1
9

We will finally confront systemic market failure

“Those unconstrained by market ideology might dare to consider what a new, truly public, digital media system could look like in the United States and beyond.”

2019 is the year we finally face up to what we already know: No commercial model for journalism can adequately serve society’s democratic needs. To be more specific, no such model can address the growing news deserts that are sprouting up all over America. No purely profit-driven media system will ever solve the local journalism crisis.

Whether news media’s commercial imperatives have ever fully aligned with democratic objectives is another discussion, but today we can safely conclude that the market cannot support the level of journalism — especially local, international, policy, and investigative reporting — that a healthy democracy requires.

This realization will include the necessary caveats—subscription and membership models will likely sustain some relatively niche outlets and perhaps large national newspapers like the New York Times. Commercial news organizations will persist in some form. And so on.

But this coming year, as advertising-dependent journalism continues its slow death, as vulture capitalists continue to pick over the bones, as news rooms continue to hollow-out, we will come to see systemic market failure for what it is. We will acknowledge that no entrepreneurial solution lies just around the bend. We will give up the ghost of discovering a magical technological fix or a market panacea. Instead, we will begin to look more aggressively for non-market-based alternatives. (And no, this does not mean state-controlled media).

What will this look like? My prediction only goes so far, but at the very least, new models will require a combination of philanthropic support as well as public monies. Fortunately, many successful nonprofit news outlets already exist, from ProPublica to the Texas Tribune. But a more systemic solution — namely, a new public media system — is still a worthy goal.

During the Trump era, public media subsidies probably have the best chances with state governments, especially those that now have Democratic-controlled legislatures. This past year, New Jersey provided a proof-of-concept model with its civic info bill. Another potential revenue stream: Platform monopolies like Google and Facebook could be compelled to offset social harms and help create a journalism trust fund.

Whatever their form, building viable noncommercial models will be a long, hard slog. Many flowers will bloom and wither. But the experiments will continue. Historical and international models can broaden our imagination for what is possible. And those unconstrained by market ideology might dare to consider what a new, truly public, digital media system could look like in the United States and beyond.

If we start with the premise that commercial journalism is a dead end for what our democracy requires, it may entirely reorient tired conversations about the future of news. It might free us to think more creatively and more boldly.

As the market continues to drive journalism into the ground, here’s hoping we can finally accept what stares us in the face and plan a path forward accordingly. We have nothing to lose but our democracy.

Victor Pickard is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

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

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

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

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

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

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

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

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

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

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

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

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

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

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

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

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

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

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

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

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

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Hearken   Pivot to people

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

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

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

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

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

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

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

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

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

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

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

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

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

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

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

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

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

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

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

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

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

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

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

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

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

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

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

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

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

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

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

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

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

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

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

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

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

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

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

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

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

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

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

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience