20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
T   I   O   N
4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
5
2030
O  U  R  N  A  L
6
2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

“At least one platform will engage with its most influential users, giving them access to special tools and training to identify and contextualize sources and claims in their feeds.”

Among the many differences between older social software and post-Facebook social software is the peculiar flatness of the newer platforms. Older tools — recognizing that the user of social software is the group, not the individual — empowered those invested in health of communities with tools to help keep the community healthy. Effective social software was oriented not toward the average member of a community, but toward the community’s stewards. That’s why, for example, Wikipedia foregrounds to users an array of information useful to making quick judgments about editors, edits, and claims on articles’ History tab. It’s why the bread and butter of community blogging systems was different levels of trusted user status, and why BBS tools showcased moderation features over user capabilities.

Platforms split community management from community activity, and we’re still feeling the effects of that. Wikipedia has a half dozen different access levels and at least a dozen specialized roles. Twitter has one role: user. But even though specialized formal roles don’t exist, different patterns of influence do, and this has been woefully underutilized in the fight against misinformation.

That’s why my prediction for the coming year is that at least one platform will engage with its most influential users, giving them access to special tools and training to identify and contextualize sources and claims in their feeds. This will allow platforms to split the difference between a clutter-free onboarding for Aunt Jane and a full-featured verification and sourcing interface for users whose every retweet goes out to hundreds of thousands of people, or whose page or group serves as an information hub for users and activists. These tools and training will also eventually be released to the general public, though for the general public, they will default to off.

Until recently, most online communities put resources into making sure that those with influence had tools to exercise that influence responsibly, built right into the main interface. It’s time for platforms to follow suit.

And here’s a bonus prediction, this one for online information literacy. Over the past few years, much of the focus in infolit has been on trustworthiness, truth, and bias. While the truth sometimes is clear cut, and the intentions of those working in media literacy are good, putting these things at the core of any large public initiative can be problematic. Trustworthiness, for example, is often seen through an explicit news agenda, where journalistic processes are seen as a platonic ideal to which other types of information should aspire. Bias, if anything, ends up being too powerful a tool, allowing students to filter out almost any publication as unworthy of their attention.

For the past several years, we’ve been taking a different tack. We’ve been asking students a simple question: What context should you have before engaging with a particular piece of content? And if you share this content, what context should you provide to those with whom you share?

While we’ve been doing this for its pedagogical benefits, a recent public project has made me realize that it is an approach uniquely sensitive to community values, and, as such may provide a starting point for broad educational initiatives. Truth is a battleground, trustworthiness a minefield. Yet even in these divided times, most people agree that one should know the relevant context of what one reads and shares. It’s as close to a universal value as we have these days.

Because these issues will become more salient as broader adoption is pursued, I predict that online information literacy initiatives will begin to pivot from trust as an organizing principle to the reconstruction of missing context.

Mike Caulfield is head of the Digital Polarization Initiative of the American Democracy Project.

Among the many differences between older social software and post-Facebook social software is the peculiar flatness of the newer platforms. Older tools — recognizing that the user of social software is the group, not the individual — empowered those invested in health of communities with tools to help keep the community healthy. Effective social software was oriented not toward the average member of a community, but toward the community’s stewards. That’s why, for example, Wikipedia foregrounds to users an array of information useful to making quick judgments about editors, edits, and claims on articles’ History tab. It’s why the bread and butter of community blogging systems was different levels of trusted user status, and why BBS tools showcased moderation features over user capabilities.

Platforms split community management from community activity, and we’re still feeling the effects of that. Wikipedia has a half dozen different access levels and at least a dozen specialized roles. Twitter has one role: user. But even though specialized formal roles don’t exist, different patterns of influence do, and this has been woefully underutilized in the fight against misinformation.

That’s why my prediction for the coming year is that at least one platform will engage with its most influential users, giving them access to special tools and training to identify and contextualize sources and claims in their feeds. This will allow platforms to split the difference between a clutter-free onboarding for Aunt Jane and a full-featured verification and sourcing interface for users whose every retweet goes out to hundreds of thousands of people, or whose page or group serves as an information hub for users and activists. These tools and training will also eventually be released to the general public, though for the general public, they will default to off.

Until recently, most online communities put resources into making sure that those with influence had tools to exercise that influence responsibly, built right into the main interface. It’s time for platforms to follow suit.

And here’s a bonus prediction, this one for online information literacy. Over the past few years, much of the focus in infolit has been on trustworthiness, truth, and bias. While the truth sometimes is clear cut, and the intentions of those working in media literacy are good, putting these things at the core of any large public initiative can be problematic. Trustworthiness, for example, is often seen through an explicit news agenda, where journalistic processes are seen as a platonic ideal to which other types of information should aspire. Bias, if anything, ends up being too powerful a tool, allowing students to filter out almost any publication as unworthy of their attention.

For the past several years, we’ve been taking a different tack. We’ve been asking students a simple question: What context should you have before engaging with a particular piece of content? And if you share this content, what context should you provide to those with whom you share?

While we’ve been doing this for its pedagogical benefits, a recent public project has made me realize that it is an approach uniquely sensitive to community values, and, as such may provide a starting point for broad educational initiatives. Truth is a battleground, trustworthiness a minefield. Yet even in these divided times, most people agree that one should know the relevant context of what one reads and shares. It’s as close to a universal value as we have these days.

Because these issues will become more salient as broader adoption is pursued, I predict that online information literacy initiatives will begin to pivot from trust as an organizing principle to the reconstruction of missing context.

Mike Caulfield is head of the Digital Polarization Initiative of the American Democracy Project.

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Elizabeth Hansen and Jesse Holcomb   Local news initiatives run into a capital shortage

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

Errin Haines   Race and gender aren’t a 2020 story — they’re the story

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Power to the people (on your audience team)

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Millie Tran   Wicked

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Jeremy Gilbert and Jarrod Dicker   A call for collaboration between storytelling and tech

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Irving Washington   Leadership isn’t something you learn on the job

Nicholas Jackson   What’s left of local gets comfortable with reader support

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Rachel Davis Mersey   The business of local TV news will enter its downward slide

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The business we want, not the business we had

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

L. Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Kevin Douglas Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

Zizi Papacharissi   A president leads, the press follows, reality fades

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Richard J. Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

John Garrett   It’s the best time in a century to start a local news organization

Joshua Darr   All that campaign cash will make the media’s problems worse

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

Lucas Graves   A smarter conversation about how (and why) fact-checking matters

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists get left behind in the industry’s decline

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Bill Adair   A Nobel Prize, a Brad Pitt film, and a Taylor Swift song

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Linda Solomon Wood   Everyone in your organization, moving toward a common goal

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Marie Gilot   This is fine