From understanding to feeling

“After a year in quarantine, audiences will shift from ‘help me understand what’s happening’ to ‘help me find an outlet.'”

In 2021, readers will want to feel more than understand. We’re all exhausted and depleted — mentally, physically, and emotionally. We’ve been locked up with little social interaction and little space to release our energy.

After a year in quarantine, audiences will shift from “help me understand what’s happening” to “help me find an outlet.” With this pivot, I expect — and look forward to — an explosion of creativity by musicians, actors, comedians, and so on.

We’ll undoubtedly see increased arts and culture coverage. Smart newsrooms will pair that coverage with unique design and new formats so that the journalism becomes an artistic experience in and of itself.

The newsrooms that will most successfully tap into this fundamental change will experiment with formats that allow their audiences to escape social isolation and help audiences absolve the limitations of locked-in spaces. 2021 is when audiences (en masse) will be ready for innovations in technology and space and new ways to interact with their world. 2021 is the right time for newsrooms to experiment with AR, VR, and other types of dynamic storytelling that allow viewers to escape beyond a 2-D screen. Some newsrooms might even create formats that teach us how to integrate into a world that is fundamentally different than it was two years ago.

Zainab Khan is audience strategy editor for video at The New York Times.

In 2021, readers will want to feel more than understand. We’re all exhausted and depleted — mentally, physically, and emotionally. We’ve been locked up with little social interaction and little space to release our energy.

After a year in quarantine, audiences will shift from “help me understand what’s happening” to “help me find an outlet.” With this pivot, I expect — and look forward to — an explosion of creativity by musicians, actors, comedians, and so on.

We’ll undoubtedly see increased arts and culture coverage. Smart newsrooms will pair that coverage with unique design and new formats so that the journalism becomes an artistic experience in and of itself.

The newsrooms that will most successfully tap into this fundamental change will experiment with formats that allow their audiences to escape social isolation and help audiences absolve the limitations of locked-in spaces. 2021 is when audiences (en masse) will be ready for innovations in technology and space and new ways to interact with their world. 2021 is the right time for newsrooms to experiment with AR, VR, and other types of dynamic storytelling that allow viewers to escape beyond a 2-D screen. Some newsrooms might even create formats that teach us how to integrate into a world that is fundamentally different than it was two years ago.

Zainab Khan is audience strategy editor for video at The New York Times.

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

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

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

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

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

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Gordon Crovitz   Common law will finally apply to the Internet

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Joshua P. Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

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

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

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

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

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

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

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

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

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

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

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

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

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

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

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

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

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

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

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

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

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

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

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

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

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

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

Cory Haik   Be essential

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

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

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

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

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

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

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

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

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

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

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

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

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

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

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

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

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

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

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

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

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

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

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

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

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

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

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

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

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

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

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

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

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

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

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products