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2050
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2040
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The race to 2021

“As we talk about converting users into subscribers, we need to embrace a similar (and possibly uncomfortable) conversion from news into information of value or need.”

I’m fixated on the morning after Election Day. And I think more newsrooms should be, too.

In 2020, a lot of journalists will do a lot of journalism about polls and candidates, debates, and conventions. My hope (and my commitment) is to go deeper into the lives of Americans on the issues they care about: schools, climate, racism, aging, the price of medicine, how to stay married, how to retire earlier, how to live longer…

My prediction: In 2020, audiences will force media to diversify content and make it more useful and accessible — a natural outgrowth of the waning “Trump Bump.” Regardless of who wins, the issues that brought us to such deep division will remain. We must prepare for this now.

Journalism has long had the power to serve as the glue of a community. We ceded ground, though, to platforms and their tendency to favor partisan takes and content. To be sure, the formats of traditional journalism don’t help, with a focus on “two sides” of a story versus embracing and explaining nuance.

How journalists can start setting us up for 2021:

  • Stop seeing social media as the story. I love social (follow me on Twitter!), but its users remain concentrated among a small group of people who are either “very conservative” or “very liberal.”Moderates simply do not wade in — even though most of the country defines themselves this way. This reticence to engage could be an opportunity if we capture nuance and the complicated nature of stories. Remember, America does not live on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Rethink career trajectories to match audience needs. You cover school boards and city council in your 20s and aspire to cover the president and Congress in your 30s. As a reader, you care more about the president and Congress in your 20s and really start to pay attention in your 30s to schools, civic life, real estate, and whether the garbage was picked up.
  • Let’s make news useful, accessible, and contextual. As we talk about converting users into subscribers, we need to embrace a similar (and possibly uncomfortable) conversion from news into information of value or need. Do you assign a review of the concert or just a listicle on the songs played? Do you need an article on Netflix’s newest series or a forum to discuss it after binge-watching?
  • Diversity efforts in media need an overhaul. Many of us are working to diversify mainstream media — but it won’t happen unless we’re open to rethinking our methods and storytelling. We’ve got to get off Twitter, go to the scene, and listen for more than a good quote. I’m predicting and pushing for some back-to-basics reporting and editing that intentionally shifts perspective and turns our platforms over to new sources. Only once we master formulas can we break them.

Mitra Kalita is CNN Digital’s senior vice president of news, opinion, and programming.

I’m fixated on the morning after Election Day. And I think more newsrooms should be, too.

In 2020, a lot of journalists will do a lot of journalism about polls and candidates, debates, and conventions. My hope (and my commitment) is to go deeper into the lives of Americans on the issues they care about: schools, climate, racism, aging, the price of medicine, how to stay married, how to retire earlier, how to live longer…

My prediction: In 2020, audiences will force media to diversify content and make it more useful and accessible — a natural outgrowth of the waning “Trump Bump.” Regardless of who wins, the issues that brought us to such deep division will remain. We must prepare for this now.

Journalism has long had the power to serve as the glue of a community. We ceded ground, though, to platforms and their tendency to favor partisan takes and content. To be sure, the formats of traditional journalism don’t help, with a focus on “two sides” of a story versus embracing and explaining nuance.

How journalists can start setting us up for 2021:

  • Stop seeing social media as the story. I love social (follow me on Twitter!), but its users remain concentrated among a small group of people who are either “very conservative” or “very liberal.”Moderates simply do not wade in — even though most of the country defines themselves this way. This reticence to engage could be an opportunity if we capture nuance and the complicated nature of stories. Remember, America does not live on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Rethink career trajectories to match audience needs. You cover school boards and city council in your 20s and aspire to cover the president and Congress in your 30s. As a reader, you care more about the president and Congress in your 20s and really start to pay attention in your 30s to schools, civic life, real estate, and whether the garbage was picked up.
  • Let’s make news useful, accessible, and contextual. As we talk about converting users into subscribers, we need to embrace a similar (and possibly uncomfortable) conversion from news into information of value or need. Do you assign a review of the concert or just a listicle on the songs played? Do you need an article on Netflix’s newest series or a forum to discuss it after binge-watching?
  • Diversity efforts in media need an overhaul. Many of us are working to diversify mainstream media — but it won’t happen unless we’re open to rethinking our methods and storytelling. We’ve got to get off Twitter, go to the scene, and listen for more than a good quote. I’m predicting and pushing for some back-to-basics reporting and editing that intentionally shifts perspective and turns our platforms over to new sources. Only once we master formulas can we break them.

Mitra Kalita is CNN Digital’s senior vice president of news, opinion, and programming.

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