Remote work helps level the playing field in an insular industry

“Building national news teams with roots in every corner of the country won’t just produce better journalism — it’ll help diversify and democratize the industry.”

Does your newsroom really need to be in midtown Manhattan?

Is Los Angeles really the only place you can produce that podcast?

Have you considered that perhaps all of your reporters don’t need to move to downtown D.C.?

And most importantly, do you realize who you’re shutting out of your publication if you’re still making relocation a non-negotiable?

After the year we just had, in 2021 we should be asking serious questions about any news outlet that bills itself as “national” but hasn’t fully and unreservedly embraced remote work.

This year broke open necessary, long-overdue conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in journalism. In particular, we’ve begun to reckon with racial injustice, critically examining who gets pushed out of newsrooms versus who gets to rise to their highest levels, and which stories get championed, fundamentally misunderstood, or completely left out as a result. At the same time, the nature of work has shifted ,as the pandemic forced many previously resistant industries to go remote. If we’re smart, watching those developments side by side will spark a realization: Building national news teams with roots in every corner of the country won’t just produce better journalism — it’ll help diversify and democratize the industry.

Journalism has long been an industry that’s challenging — if not downright hostile — for women and journalists of color. It’s also notoriously insular, with the most prestigious and widely-read “national” publications clustered into expensive major cities on the coasts. The effect is that many talented journalists are shut out from influential, major platforms because of who and where they are. Maybe they’re working class and can’t afford to move to a high-cost-of-living city on an intern’s pittance. Maybe family responsibilities or a partner’s job mean they have less geographic mobility, as is true for many women. Or maybe, just maybe, they’ve deliberately set down roots in a part of the country that’s not New York City because they love it, or it’s where they’re from, or they value the local communities of which they’re a part.

None of those situations ought to be a barrier to a national news career in the era of Zoom, Slack, and high-speed internet. Not only does worshipping at the altar of centralized “in-person” newsrooms disproportionately shut out women, BIPOC, the working class, and disabled people, it has a pernicious effect on the kind of reporting that gets done. Parachute reporting becomes the norm rather than offering opportunities to reporters who are deeply rooted and well-sourced in their communities and who have a nuanced understanding of local issues.

Indeed, when we started building Prism in 2019, we intentionally created an all-remote newsroom. As a result, we’ve assembled a geographically diverse, all-BIPOC team that includes working mothers and folks from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

As we’ve worked together over the past year, it’s clearer than ever that a newsroom doesn’t have to be a single, physical place in order for reporters and editors to collaborate effectively. We write, we edit, we videochat, we make liberal use of gifs and emoji via Slack — and our journalism is genuinely national, because everyone’s exactly where they want to be.

Remote work won’t solve every problem in journalism, but it’s long past time we start pulling every possible lever to make this field more accessible, inclusive, and reflective of the communities we’re covering. Let 2021 be the year national news outlets see the value in letting journalists freely choose the homes that work for them, and in the more reflective, accurate, and accountable coverage that will result.

Ashton Lattimore is editor-in-chief of Prism.

Does your newsroom really need to be in midtown Manhattan?

Is Los Angeles really the only place you can produce that podcast?

Have you considered that perhaps all of your reporters don’t need to move to downtown D.C.?

And most importantly, do you realize who you’re shutting out of your publication if you’re still making relocation a non-negotiable?

After the year we just had, in 2021 we should be asking serious questions about any news outlet that bills itself as “national” but hasn’t fully and unreservedly embraced remote work.

This year broke open necessary, long-overdue conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in journalism. In particular, we’ve begun to reckon with racial injustice, critically examining who gets pushed out of newsrooms versus who gets to rise to their highest levels, and which stories get championed, fundamentally misunderstood, or completely left out as a result. At the same time, the nature of work has shifted ,as the pandemic forced many previously resistant industries to go remote. If we’re smart, watching those developments side by side will spark a realization: Building national news teams with roots in every corner of the country won’t just produce better journalism — it’ll help diversify and democratize the industry.

Journalism has long been an industry that’s challenging — if not downright hostile — for women and journalists of color. It’s also notoriously insular, with the most prestigious and widely-read “national” publications clustered into expensive major cities on the coasts. The effect is that many talented journalists are shut out from influential, major platforms because of who and where they are. Maybe they’re working class and can’t afford to move to a high-cost-of-living city on an intern’s pittance. Maybe family responsibilities or a partner’s job mean they have less geographic mobility, as is true for many women. Or maybe, just maybe, they’ve deliberately set down roots in a part of the country that’s not New York City because they love it, or it’s where they’re from, or they value the local communities of which they’re a part.

None of those situations ought to be a barrier to a national news career in the era of Zoom, Slack, and high-speed internet. Not only does worshipping at the altar of centralized “in-person” newsrooms disproportionately shut out women, BIPOC, the working class, and disabled people, it has a pernicious effect on the kind of reporting that gets done. Parachute reporting becomes the norm rather than offering opportunities to reporters who are deeply rooted and well-sourced in their communities and who have a nuanced understanding of local issues.

Indeed, when we started building Prism in 2019, we intentionally created an all-remote newsroom. As a result, we’ve assembled a geographically diverse, all-BIPOC team that includes working mothers and folks from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

As we’ve worked together over the past year, it’s clearer than ever that a newsroom doesn’t have to be a single, physical place in order for reporters and editors to collaborate effectively. We write, we edit, we videochat, we make liberal use of gifs and emoji via Slack — and our journalism is genuinely national, because everyone’s exactly where they want to be.

Remote work won’t solve every problem in journalism, but it’s long past time we start pulling every possible lever to make this field more accessible, inclusive, and reflective of the communities we’re covering. Let 2021 be the year national news outlets see the value in letting journalists freely choose the homes that work for them, and in the more reflective, accurate, and accountable coverage that will result.

Ashton Lattimore is editor-in-chief of Prism.

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

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

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

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

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

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

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

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

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

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

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

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

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

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

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

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

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

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

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

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

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

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

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

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

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

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

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

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

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

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

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

Gordon Crovitz   Common law will finally apply to the Internet

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

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

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

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

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

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

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

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

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

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Cory Haik   Be essential

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

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

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

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

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

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

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

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

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

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

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

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

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

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

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

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

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

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

Joshua P. Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

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

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

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

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy