The year of journalists taking initiative

“2021 is the year for journalists from all sides of the newsroom to step into the cultural challenge that is a white-washed, male-dominated media industry and walk into a cultural change.”

I hope U.S.-based news outlets are ready because I believe 2021 will be the year of the journalist.

But not just any journalist. I’m talking about the ones who speak truth to power — in their own newsrooms. Journalists who tell stories, and live stories, and live to tell stories. The journalists who make their newsrooms go round, who gather readers and listeners and watchers, who dare to challenge their job description and reach beyond the legacy and into a present and future that requires more of themselves, their teams, their editors, their outlets, and their communities.

2021 is the year for journalists from all sides of the newsroom to step into the cultural challenge that is a white-washed, male-dominated media industry and walk into a cultural change.

It won’t be easy, but they won’t be alone. And they won’t show up empty-handed. These folks aren’t just talented storytellers, strategists, and analysts, but many of them are visionaries and have decided to demand better for themselves. They know the vision they’ve set for their lives and aren’t afraid to exit a gig or a career when it doesn’t match up. Likewise, they’re more willing to chase interesting, impactful work — not dollars and corporate kingdoms.

They’ve begun to look at their careers strategically, learning how to navigate politics that have forever excluded them, learning how to communicate even when it’s difficult, learning how to look forward instead of longing for what’s behind them.

And this means they’re armed with the confidence to walk away, and they’re dangerously close already. 2021 is the year that journalists — especially women and journalists of color — defeat their imposter syndrome and make big moves.

While some newsrooms are watching, taking notes, pivoting, and preparing, others are oblivious, putting too much faith in empty words and public displays of apology. The journalists who will own 2021 are the ones who demand real action — not just real answers — from their managers, newsrooms, and even from themselves.

What are you doing to not just diversify our coverage but be inclusive of voices that don’t sound like yours? Why are you siloing out “diversity beats” as if DEI isn’t the entire newsroom’s job? What practices do you have in place to foster and execute on ideas and innovation? What potential do you see in me, and how will you help me reach it?

I dare you, newsrooms, managers, executive leaders, to have the answers and the actions.

What we don’t want in 2021 is a mass exodus of incredible talent, all because fill-in-the-blank is the way we’ve always done it. And the year of the journalist will get us partly there. The question: Will leadership support the revolution by giving permission and getting out of the way — which has gotten us nowhere — or by amplifying the cause and then getting in to push it forward?

Samantha Ragland is a faculty member and director of the Leadership Academy for Women in Media at the Poynter Institute.

I hope U.S.-based news outlets are ready because I believe 2021 will be the year of the journalist.

But not just any journalist. I’m talking about the ones who speak truth to power — in their own newsrooms. Journalists who tell stories, and live stories, and live to tell stories. The journalists who make their newsrooms go round, who gather readers and listeners and watchers, who dare to challenge their job description and reach beyond the legacy and into a present and future that requires more of themselves, their teams, their editors, their outlets, and their communities.

2021 is the year for journalists from all sides of the newsroom to step into the cultural challenge that is a white-washed, male-dominated media industry and walk into a cultural change.

It won’t be easy, but they won’t be alone. And they won’t show up empty-handed. These folks aren’t just talented storytellers, strategists, and analysts, but many of them are visionaries and have decided to demand better for themselves. They know the vision they’ve set for their lives and aren’t afraid to exit a gig or a career when it doesn’t match up. Likewise, they’re more willing to chase interesting, impactful work — not dollars and corporate kingdoms.

They’ve begun to look at their careers strategically, learning how to navigate politics that have forever excluded them, learning how to communicate even when it’s difficult, learning how to look forward instead of longing for what’s behind them.

And this means they’re armed with the confidence to walk away, and they’re dangerously close already. 2021 is the year that journalists — especially women and journalists of color — defeat their imposter syndrome and make big moves.

While some newsrooms are watching, taking notes, pivoting, and preparing, others are oblivious, putting too much faith in empty words and public displays of apology. The journalists who will own 2021 are the ones who demand real action — not just real answers — from their managers, newsrooms, and even from themselves.

What are you doing to not just diversify our coverage but be inclusive of voices that don’t sound like yours? Why are you siloing out “diversity beats” as if DEI isn’t the entire newsroom’s job? What practices do you have in place to foster and execute on ideas and innovation? What potential do you see in me, and how will you help me reach it?

I dare you, newsrooms, managers, executive leaders, to have the answers and the actions.

What we don’t want in 2021 is a mass exodus of incredible talent, all because fill-in-the-blank is the way we’ve always done it. And the year of the journalist will get us partly there. The question: Will leadership support the revolution by giving permission and getting out of the way — which has gotten us nowhere — or by amplifying the cause and then getting in to push it forward?

Samantha Ragland is a faculty member and director of the Leadership Academy for Women in Media at the Poynter Institute.

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

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

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

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

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

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

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

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

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

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

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

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

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

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

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

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

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

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

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

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

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

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

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

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

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

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

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

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

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

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

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

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

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

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

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

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

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

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

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

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

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

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

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

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

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

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

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

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

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

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Joshua Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

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

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Cory Haik   Be essential

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

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

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

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

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

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

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

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

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

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

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

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

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled