2
0
1
9

The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

“Four years ago, if you were a BuzzFeed or a Vox, you’d just eye NBC as your exit path. Now that story isn’t as attractive.”

Obvious but newsy: Consolidation is coming. Vice, BuzzFeed, and Vox Media are all looking at their balance sheets and don’t have the numbers they would want to IPO. There’s some chatter that they will attempt to merge, but that just seems like compounding an existing problem of too much overhead and not enough revenue.

There will have to be layoffs in non-core areas. Perhaps BuzzFeed will have to pare back on some of its more ambitious news gathering and coverage. Let’s hope not.

The biggest albatross is that big media companies like Disney (focused on fighting Netflix) and NBCUniversal (not sure what they’re focused on!) aren’t buying. Four years ago, if you were a BuzzFeed or a Vox, you’d just eye NBC as your exit path. Now that story isn’t as attractive.

Even worse is that if the most promising startups are getting passed on, what happens to the small fries? Mic, Refinery29, Mashable — that ilk— will all have to make some hard decisions (and some already have, as we’ve seen).

I know everyone is saying it’s the year of the podcast, and sure, whatever, maybe. I think it won’t be the actual year of the podcast until someone builds the analytics system to give proper ROI tracking to advertisers. Right now, ad dollars going to podcasts are nothing compared to traditional and digital ad spend. Prove to brands you’re delivering customers and high listen-through rates (beyond the existing “enter the promo code for X podcast on our brand website”) and the ad dollars will really come.

Right now, it’s brand advertising. We need someone to create the AdSense of podcasts. Scale works!

Mike Isaac is a technology reporter for The New York Times.

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

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

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

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

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

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

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

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

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

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Hearken   Pivot to people

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

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

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

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

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

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

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

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

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

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

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

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

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

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

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

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

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

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

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

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

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

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

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

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

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

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

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

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

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

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

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

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

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

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

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

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

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

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

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

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

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

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

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

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

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

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

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

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

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

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

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

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

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

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

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

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

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

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

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

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

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

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

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

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

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

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

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

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change