The year after a thousand earthquakes

“Sometimes an earthquake can shake us up when we least expect it. Just remember why you became a journalist in the first place.”

Do you remember why you became a journalist?

Just after 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, I raced out of the small Spanish-language TV station where I worked as a young technician. I remember the parking lot rolling in waves and the power lines dancing in the air. Just over the mountains and an hour away, the San Francisco Bay Area buckled under the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake.

The newsroom geared up to cover the story, but the only working field camera was reserved to shoot a car commercial. They implored management to reschedule, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Our station was the only daily source of Spanish-language news for the northern Central Valley, stretching from Sacramento to Modesto. There was no alternative; there was no internet. The region is home to hundreds of thousands of Spanish speakers, many with family and friends who work in the Bay Area. That night, I became a journalist.

The year 2020 has been rocked by a thousand earthquakes. Audiences have fled to their filter bubbles as the pandemic rages. Racism abounds. The most basic facts are under assault. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs. In the midst of such turmoil, you may feel overwhelmed, helpless, and dejected.

But it can also make you feel like fighting back. I believe 2020 will inspire a wave of innovation and a new generation of journalists in pursuit of the truth. New organizations, products, and roles will put journalism to work in ways we never thought possible, leveraging technology to solve problems at scale.

It may look different, but the “why” doesn’t change. We’ll still tell the truth, give a voice to the voiceless, hold the powerful to account and help those in need.

On that night in 1989, I listened as the exasperated news team vented about human rights, race, and journalism ethics. I never looked back. Sometimes an earthquake can shake us up when we least expect it. Just remember why you became a journalist in the first place.

Cory Bergman is vice president of product and co-founder of Factal.

Do you remember why you became a journalist?

Just after 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, I raced out of the small Spanish-language TV station where I worked as a young technician. I remember the parking lot rolling in waves and the power lines dancing in the air. Just over the mountains and an hour away, the San Francisco Bay Area buckled under the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake.

The newsroom geared up to cover the story, but the only working field camera was reserved to shoot a car commercial. They implored management to reschedule, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Our station was the only daily source of Spanish-language news for the northern Central Valley, stretching from Sacramento to Modesto. There was no alternative; there was no internet. The region is home to hundreds of thousands of Spanish speakers, many with family and friends who work in the Bay Area. That night, I became a journalist.

The year 2020 has been rocked by a thousand earthquakes. Audiences have fled to their filter bubbles as the pandemic rages. Racism abounds. The most basic facts are under assault. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs. In the midst of such turmoil, you may feel overwhelmed, helpless, and dejected.

But it can also make you feel like fighting back. I believe 2020 will inspire a wave of innovation and a new generation of journalists in pursuit of the truth. New organizations, products, and roles will put journalism to work in ways we never thought possible, leveraging technology to solve problems at scale.

It may look different, but the “why” doesn’t change. We’ll still tell the truth, give a voice to the voiceless, hold the powerful to account and help those in need.

On that night in 1989, I listened as the exasperated news team vented about human rights, race, and journalism ethics. I never looked back. Sometimes an earthquake can shake us up when we least expect it. Just remember why you became a journalist in the first place.

Cory Bergman is vice president of product and co-founder of Factal.

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

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

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

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

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

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Joshua Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

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

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Cory Haik   Be essential

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

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

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

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

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

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

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

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

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

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

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

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

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

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

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

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

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

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

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

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

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

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

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

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

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

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

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

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

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

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

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

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

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

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

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

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

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

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

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

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

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

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

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

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

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

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

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

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

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

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

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

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

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

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

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

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

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism