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.

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Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

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

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

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

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

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

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

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

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

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

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

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

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

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

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

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

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

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

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

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

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

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

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

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Cory Haik   Be essential

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

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

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

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

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

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

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

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

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

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

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

Joshua P. Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

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

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

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

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

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

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

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

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Gordon Crovitz   Common law will finally apply to the Internet

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

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

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

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

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

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

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

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

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

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

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

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

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

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

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

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

J. Siguru Wahutu   Journalists still wrongly think the U.S. is different

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

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

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

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

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

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

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab