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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Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

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

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

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

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

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

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

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

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Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

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Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Cory Haik   Be essential

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

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

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

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

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

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

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

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

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

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

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

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

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

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

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

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

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

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

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

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

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

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

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

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

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

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Joshua Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

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Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

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

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

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

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

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

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

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

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Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

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

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

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

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

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

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

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

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

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

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

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

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