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

20 questions for 2020

“Though people generally could stand to be better informed than they are at the moment, when is too much news, well, too much?”

We like symmetry in numbers. So here are 20 (mostly hypothetical) questions that could prompt some reflection as we enter 2020:

1. What if journalists were to cut the time they spend on Twitter in half?

2. Or what if their bosses, the ones who over the past decade insisted on reporters being active on Twitter, were wrong all along — that social media use, on balance, would never be the net positive that many imagined?

3. What if journalists individually and news organizations collectively had a better understanding of the things they do that actually create value (economic, societal, or otherwise)?

4. And what if they had a better sense for what stands in the way of their doing more of the high-value and less of the low-value work?

5. What if research about journalism — of which we have so much, more than ever! — were more fully integrated into the way that universities teach journalism?

6. How might that change, for one thing, the way that journalists tend to look so skeptically on people who study the media — even as they give overwhelming deference to economists, lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists (roughly in that order) when it comes to sourcing experts, even on issues where communication scholars have important things to add to the conversation?

7. Or, more consequentially, what might finally help us bridge the persistent gap between academic research and industry practice, to the betterment of both?

8. What if newsrooms produced less news but had greater impact?

9. How would the conversation around the sharing of misinformation be different if we more fully recognized that communication is as much a ritual experience — a cultural means of identity and community and self-expression — as it is about the functional transmission of information?

10. Who will bring much-needed nuance to the public debate about filter bubbles and echo chambers, particularly at a time when pundits proclaim one thing and empirical evidence seems to suggest another?

11. How can we better account for social inequalities in who gets news?

12. If lower-income people generally get lower-quality information, and if the transition to paywalls and elite-oriented nonprofit news only exacerbates information asymmetries, what would a journalism look like that prioritizes serving the poor?

13. What would news organizations do differently if they better realized what a frustrating and fraught experience it is for many people, across the political spectrum, to consume news much of the time?

14. Would they start with simply rethinking and redesigning, entirely from scratch, how news products are labeled — for example, to clarify differences that bother people about what’s news vs. what’s opinion, or what “news analysis” is supposed to mean?

15. Or would it involve more transparently explaining the reporting process, the use (and abuse) of anonymous sources, and why some voices appear in the news more than others?

16. What if relational forms of journalism — ones that emphasize building relationships with communities and developing more mutually beneficial interactions with audiences (yes, ones I’ve argued for) — sound nice in theory but assume that people want to participate in news more than they actually do?

17. Or what if the forces that are pushing journalists to develop a personal brand online are also putting those same journalists (especially women and minorities) into more compromising situations of hostility and harassment?

18. Though people generally could stand to be better informed than they are at the moment, when is too much news, well, too much?

19. Or: When does news begin to harm more than it helps?

20. If, in the end, there’s more to celebrate than lament about the state of journalism, and if we want to preserve what we prize and appreciate about journalism, how can we more forcefully defend the press as an institution — particularly in the face of authoritarian attack — even while just as readily acknowledging its broken parts and urging their repair?

That’s a question worth considering in 2020 and beyond.

Seth C. Lewis is the Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon.

We like symmetry in numbers. So here are 20 (mostly hypothetical) questions that could prompt some reflection as we enter 2020:

1. What if journalists were to cut the time they spend on Twitter in half?

2. Or what if their bosses, the ones who over the past decade insisted on reporters being active on Twitter, were wrong all along — that social media use, on balance, would never be the net positive that many imagined?

3. What if journalists individually and news organizations collectively had a better understanding of the things they do that actually create value (economic, societal, or otherwise)?

4. And what if they had a better sense for what stands in the way of their doing more of the high-value and less of the low-value work?

5. What if research about journalism — of which we have so much, more than ever! — were more fully integrated into the way that universities teach journalism?

6. How might that change, for one thing, the way that journalists tend to look so skeptically on people who study the media — even as they give overwhelming deference to economists, lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists (roughly in that order) when it comes to sourcing experts, even on issues where communication scholars have important things to add to the conversation?

7. Or, more consequentially, what might finally help us bridge the persistent gap between academic research and industry practice, to the betterment of both?

8. What if newsrooms produced less news but had greater impact?

9. How would the conversation around the sharing of misinformation be different if we more fully recognized that communication is as much a ritual experience — a cultural means of identity and community and self-expression — as it is about the functional transmission of information?

10. Who will bring much-needed nuance to the public debate about filter bubbles and echo chambers, particularly at a time when pundits proclaim one thing and empirical evidence seems to suggest another?

11. How can we better account for social inequalities in who gets news?

12. If lower-income people generally get lower-quality information, and if the transition to paywalls and elite-oriented nonprofit news only exacerbates information asymmetries, what would a journalism look like that prioritizes serving the poor?

13. What would news organizations do differently if they better realized what a frustrating and fraught experience it is for many people, across the political spectrum, to consume news much of the time?

14. Would they start with simply rethinking and redesigning, entirely from scratch, how news products are labeled — for example, to clarify differences that bother people about what’s news vs. what’s opinion, or what “news analysis” is supposed to mean?

15. Or would it involve more transparently explaining the reporting process, the use (and abuse) of anonymous sources, and why some voices appear in the news more than others?

16. What if relational forms of journalism — ones that emphasize building relationships with communities and developing more mutually beneficial interactions with audiences (yes, ones I’ve argued for) — sound nice in theory but assume that people want to participate in news more than they actually do?

17. Or what if the forces that are pushing journalists to develop a personal brand online are also putting those same journalists (especially women and minorities) into more compromising situations of hostility and harassment?

18. Though people generally could stand to be better informed than they are at the moment, when is too much news, well, too much?

19. Or: When does news begin to harm more than it helps?

20. If, in the end, there’s more to celebrate than lament about the state of journalism, and if we want to preserve what we prize and appreciate about journalism, how can we more forcefully defend the press as an institution — particularly in the face of authoritarian attack — even while just as readily acknowledging its broken parts and urging their repair?

That’s a question worth considering in 2020 and beyond.

Seth C. Lewis is the Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon.

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

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

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

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

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

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

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

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

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

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

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

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

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

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Millie Tran   Wicked

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

J. Siguru Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

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

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

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Nikki Usher   All systems down

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

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

AX Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

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

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

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

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

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

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

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

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

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

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

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

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

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

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

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

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

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

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

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

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

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

Richard Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

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

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

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

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Juleyka Lantigua   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

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

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

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

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

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

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

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

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

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

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

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

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice