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20100
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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.

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

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

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

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

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

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

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

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

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

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

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

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Mario García   Think small (screen)

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

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

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

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

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

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

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

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

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

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

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

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

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

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

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

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

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

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

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

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

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

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

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

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

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

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

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

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

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

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

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

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Millie Tran   Wicked

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

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

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

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

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

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

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

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

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

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

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

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

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

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

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

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

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4