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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.

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

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

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

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

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

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

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

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

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

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

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

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

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Millie Tran   Wicked

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

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

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

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

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

Richard Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

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

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

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

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

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

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

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

AX Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

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

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

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

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Juleyka Lantigua   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

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

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

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

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

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

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

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

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

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

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

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

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

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

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

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

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

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

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

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

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

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

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

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

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