Fewer pixels, more cardboard

“These boxes are important. They slice neatly through the myth that data telling must be bound to programming. Do you have some boxes? Some paint? You can visualize data.”

While my Twitter feed has spent the last week arguing about whether “defund the police” is a good slogan, I’ve been thinking about these boxes:

They were set up and stacked in Chicago up by a group of young Black activists including asha rosa, a founding member of BYP100. The tallest stack of boxes represents the $1.8 billion the city spends each year on police; the others represent other chunks of the city’s budget. At the right edge are housing and public health, one single box each. It’s a clear and persuasive message, told in cardboard.

These boxes are important. They slice neatly through the myth that data telling must be bound to programming. Do you have some boxes? Some paint? You can visualize data. These boxes also bring data into the real sun-through-the fence-acacia-tree public, a place that isn’t siloed into news networks or blocked by a paywall. Finally and crucially, these boxes bind data to a history of Black activism and activists, a reminder (for those of us who still need it) that we have a lot to learn.

In The Next American Revolution, her last book, Detroit activist and labor organizer Grace Lee Boggs spoke of her hope for “more socially-minded human beings and new, more participatory and place-based concepts of citizenship and democracy.” Some of that hope, I think, is stacked up with these boxes.

While my Twitter feed has spent the last week arguing about whether “defund the police” is a good slogan, I’ve been thinking about these boxes:

They were set up and stacked in Chicago up by a group of young Black activists including asha rosa, a founding member of BYP100. The tallest stack of boxes represents the $1.8 billion the city spends each year on police; the others represent other chunks of the city’s budget. At the right edge are housing and public health, one single box each. It’s a clear and persuasive message, told in cardboard.

These boxes are important. They slice neatly through the myth that data telling must be bound to programming. Do you have some boxes? Some paint? You can visualize data. These boxes also bring data into the real sun-through-the fence-acacia-tree public, a place that isn’t siloed into news networks or blocked by a paywall. Finally and crucially, these boxes bind data to a history of Black activism and activists, a reminder (for those of us who still need it) that we have a lot to learn.

In The Next American Revolution, her last book, Detroit activist and labor organizer Grace Lee Boggs spoke of her hope for “more socially-minded human beings and new, more participatory and place-based concepts of citizenship and democracy.” Some of that hope, I think, is stacked up with these boxes.

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Joshua Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

Ben Collins   We need to learn how to talk to (and about) accidental conspiracists

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

Cory Haik   Be essential

Francesca Tripodi   Don’t expect breaking up Google and Facebook to solve our information woes

Mike Caulfield   2021’s misinformation will look a lot like 2020’s (and 2019’s, and…)

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Richard J. Tofel   Less on politics, more on how government works (or doesn’t)

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Benjamin Toff   Beltway reporting gets normal again, for better and for worse

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Julia B. Chan and Kim Bui   Millennials are ready to run things

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

Candis Callison   Calling it a crisis isn’t enough (if it ever was)

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

María Sánchez Díez   Traffic will plummet — and it’ll be ok

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

Nikki Usher   Don’t expect an antitrust dividend for the media

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and Cassie Haynes   A shift from conversation to action

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

Laura E. Davis   The focus turns to newsroom leaders for lasting change

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

An Xiao Mina   2020 isn’t a black swan — it’s a yellow canary

james Wahutu   Journalists still wrongly think the U.S. is different

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

Patrick Butler   Covid-19 reporting has prepared us for cross-border collaboration

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Sam Ford   We’ll find better ways to archive our work

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

Ariane Bernard   Going solo is still only a path for the few

Aaron Foley   Diversity gains haven’t shown up in local news

L. Gordon Crovitz   Common law will finally apply to the Internet

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists will be kinder to each other — and to themselves

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

C.W. Anderson   Journalism changed under Trump — will it keep changing under Biden?

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Annie Rudd   Newsrooms grow less comfortable with the “view from above”

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   The download, podcasting’s metric king, gets dethroned

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

Bill Adair   The future of fact-checking is all about structured data

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Sue Cross   A global consensus around the kind of news we need to save

Astead W. Herndon   The Trump-sized window of the media caring about race closes again

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Shaydanay Urbani and Nancy Watzman   Local collaboration is key to slowing misinformation

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

Kate Myers   My son will join every Zoom call in our industry

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Jennifer Brandel   A sneak peak at power mapping, 2073’s top innovation

Marcus Mabry   News orgs adapt to a post-Trump world (with Trump still in it)

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Raney Aronson-Rath   To get past information divides, we need to understand them first

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula   Expect to see more translations and non-English content

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Tanya Cordrey   Declining trust forces publishers to claim (or disclaim) values

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting dodged a bullet in 2020, but 2021 will be harder

Ashton Lattimore   Remote work helps level the playing field in an insular industry

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

Alfred Hermida and Oscar Westlund   The virus ups data journalism’s game

Rishad Patel   From direct-to-consumer to direct-to-believers

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

Sumi Aggarwal   News literacy programs aren’t child’s play