2
0
1
9

News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

“The next outdated hindrance to our sustainable future to be thrown into the volcano is old-school, big-man, charismatic, ego-driven leadership.”

2019 will be the year publishers realize that, in their intense focus on product development, they have neglected the news people who have contributed most to the transformation of their businesses.

As founding editor of NewsMavens — Europe’s women-centric current affairs news magazine — I’ve watched the news industry in my part of the world undergo an incredible evolution in the last several years. Between the challenge of digital, changing reader habits, and often intense pushback from populist politicians, the raised stakes for rapidly transforming classic legacy newsrooms into future-friendly companies have yielded amazing results.

The pace and patterns of this race for survival, freedom, and relevance has shown that we are a quick study and a grimly determined industry, ready to make the necessary sacrifices. If we continue this way, then the next outdated hindrance to our sustainable future to be thrown into the volcano is old-school, big-man, charismatic, ego-driven leadership.

We’ve already taken the necessary first steps. In the past two years, many organizations have tackled newsrooms diversity issues in innovative and meaningful ways. In response to an open letter to end misogyny in the news industry, for example, the European Journalism Center implemented a full equality action plan. At the BBC, a self-measuring program called 50/50 aims to bring the number of expert voices in programming to half by April 2019. This fall, the Financial Times launched a gender bot to ensure that women were equally quoted in stories. These are great, but I predict that as this momentum continues, diversity will be recognized as the canary in the coal mine of a leadership culture that could use a more general overhaul.

Cracks in the hitherto impenetrable Chinese wall between editorial and business make me hopeful that this leadership evolution will take place in news as it has in business. Lucy Kueng from the Reuters Institute for the study of Journalism at Oxford has collected insights from dozens of publishers who are embracing a more level-headed, business-savvy approach to innovation, for example. Julie Posetti’s new report confirms that persuing shiny new things is no longer a viable approach. One manifestation of this shift: regular town halls at The Economist, where editors communicate with journalists about the business models behind new projects. That used to be unthinkable, but as advertisers have left the building, it’s become possible to have these conversations without endangering the integrity of the newsroom. This change in news attitudes towards business is supported by programs like the Media Management Accelerator, an online management training course designed by WAN-IFRA, with the support of Google DNI. There has been a flood of understanding that business and business management know-how need urgent downloading into news publishing.

Moving forward — as the dust from the mad innovation scramble of the past few years begins to settle and as publishers dig in to crunch the numbers in more sophisticated ways — they may notice a difference in the people around them. Today, the people bringing change to news organizations and working in newsrooms are fewer in number, more tired, and much less hopeful. Learning to better value, motivate, support, and grow their skills is the name of the game for 2019.

Thankfully, our industry is full of incredibly smart people driven by a built-in sense of purpose. I have no doubt that news orgs steep digital transformation learning curve will continue in 2019 and lead to this more intense leadership focus on people.

Imagine the difference between a newsroom of today and one where leadership has learned how to overcome bias, conduct difficult conversations, diagnose and prevent burnout, build alliances within the organization, and create spaces for learning, experimentation, and growth.

It’s been said that there’s no silver bullet that will guarantee a sustainable future for the news. But I don’t see why our business should need a special recipe. Every company now needs to be fluent in technology and based on solid business models, and so do ours. Going by that logic, since the concept of good leadership has also evolved far away from what is in place in many traditional newsrooms, we need to explore an upgrade in this field as well. If top-performing companies in other industries have leaders who embrace self-reflection, flatten power structures, and build a culture that empowers talent from all levels of the organization, why wouldn’t news organizations follow suit?

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

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

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

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

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

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

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

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

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

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

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

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

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

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

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

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

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

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

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

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

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

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

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

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

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

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

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

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

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

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

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

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

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

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

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

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

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

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

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

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

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

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

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

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

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

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

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

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Hearken   Pivot to people

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

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

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

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

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

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

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

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

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

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

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

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

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

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

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

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

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

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

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

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

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

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

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

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

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

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

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

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator