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2020
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7

A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

“Such spaces are escape hatches from the horse-race election cycle: People are looking for those escape hatches, and they’re looking to create them too.”

I read plenty of newsletters, but I don’t subscribe to very many. Often — especially in the case of the personal and quirky, and the less overtly news-pegged — I scroll through the archives of newsletters on the web and read several editions at a time.

It’s great. It’s like reading blogs.

Newsletters seem to have circled around from being the new blogs to being like blogs (but with posts that are emailed to readers). The web interface of any given public Substack is basically that of a blog. You can even set up comments. And there are subscription apps like Stoop that organize newsletters’ content as RSS readers did for blogs.

One reason we might see a resurgence of blogs is the novelty. Tell someone you’re starting a new newsletter and they might complain about how many newsletters (or podcasts) they already subscribe to. But tell them you’re launching a blog and see how that goes: Huh. Really, a blog? In 2020? Wow.

It’s been long enough now that people look back on blogging fondly, but the next generation of blogs will be shaped around the habits and conventions of today’s internet. Internet users are savvier about things like context collapse and control (or lack thereof) over who gets to view their shared content. Decentralization and privacy are other factors. At this moment, while so much communication takes place backstage, in group chats and on Slack, I’d expect new blogs to step in the same ambiguous territory as newsletters have — a venue for material where not everyone is looking, but privacy is neither airtight nor expected.

Blogs offer the potential to broadcast, but not too broadly. We might even see a breakdown where newsletters begin to focus more on individual personal stories and daily digests, while blogs will fill in the gaps of all that might be written about otherwise.

It is genuinely pleasant to scroll through Jason Kottke’s blog when I have no idea where else to click on the internet. It’s pleasant to scroll through the archives of various newsletters too. Such spaces are escape hatches from the horse-race election cycle: People are looking for those escape hatches, and they’re looking to create them too. So why not start a blog?

Joanne McNeil is author of the book Lurking: How a Person Became a User, out next month.

I read plenty of newsletters, but I don’t subscribe to very many. Often — especially in the case of the personal and quirky, and the less overtly news-pegged — I scroll through the archives of newsletters on the web and read several editions at a time.

It’s great. It’s like reading blogs.

Newsletters seem to have circled around from being the new blogs to being like blogs (but with posts that are emailed to readers). The web interface of any given public Substack is basically that of a blog. You can even set up comments. And there are subscription apps like Stoop that organize newsletters’ content as RSS readers did for blogs.

One reason we might see a resurgence of blogs is the novelty. Tell someone you’re starting a new newsletter and they might complain about how many newsletters (or podcasts) they already subscribe to. But tell them you’re launching a blog and see how that goes: Huh. Really, a blog? In 2020? Wow.

It’s been long enough now that people look back on blogging fondly, but the next generation of blogs will be shaped around the habits and conventions of today’s internet. Internet users are savvier about things like context collapse and control (or lack thereof) over who gets to view their shared content. Decentralization and privacy are other factors. At this moment, while so much communication takes place backstage, in group chats and on Slack, I’d expect new blogs to step in the same ambiguous territory as newsletters have — a venue for material where not everyone is looking, but privacy is neither airtight nor expected.

Blogs offer the potential to broadcast, but not too broadly. We might even see a breakdown where newsletters begin to focus more on individual personal stories and daily digests, while blogs will fill in the gaps of all that might be written about otherwise.

It is genuinely pleasant to scroll through Jason Kottke’s blog when I have no idea where else to click on the internet. It’s pleasant to scroll through the archives of various newsletters too. Such spaces are escape hatches from the horse-race election cycle: People are looking for those escape hatches, and they’re looking to create them too. So why not start a blog?

Joanne McNeil is author of the book Lurking: How a Person Became a User, out next month.

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

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

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

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Millie Tran   Wicked

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

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

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

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

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

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

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

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

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

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

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

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

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

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

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

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

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

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

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

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

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

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

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

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

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

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

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

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Mario García   Think small (screen)

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

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Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

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Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

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

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Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

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Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

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

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

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

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

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

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

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

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

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

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

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

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

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

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

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

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

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

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

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

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

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

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

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

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

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

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

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