“Everything sucks. Good luck to you.”

“It’s no wonder that news consumption is plummeting and users are left feeling confused or overwhelmed.”

In 2023, I hope newsrooms understand why audiences are tuning us out and try to do something about it besides stoking another Trump bump.

Journalism today is still executed largely like the journalism of yesterday, from tone to format to process. News is defined by conflict, stories boiled down to two warring sides, presented by a distant, omniscient narrator in order of most important to least important information. The approach basically ends up telling readers: Everything sucks. Good luck to you.

It’s no wonder that news consumption is plummeting and users are left feeling confused or overwhelmed. There are better ways. I share two below from my experiences running Epicenter-NYC and URL Media — with a warning on why the problem stands to get even worse.

Who, what, when, where, why and one more question

You learned the five Ws in journalism school — the questions that every story must answer. At Epicenter-NYC, a newsletter launched to help New Yorkers get through the pandemic that has evolved into a multi-platform community media outlet, we ask one more of sources, whether they are in line at a food pantry or a multimillionaire entrepreneur on a panel: What do you need?

In turn, the stories we produce, whether in article or bullet form, a video or podcast or flyer, anticipate and preemptively address the concern of users and try to answer it: What can I do?

We don’t want you to feel helpless or depressed reading the news. These two fundamental tweaks to our reporting and editing process, searching for needs and offering actions, have made our work much more relevant, distinctive, personal and positive.

Stronger together

Journalists often compete with each other. But the last few years have seen a rise in cohorts, collaborations, and cooperation. Ever less-resourced newsrooms see the value of creating economies of scale. Already, there are many examples of this, including URL Media, the network we run of 16 high-performing Black and Brown media organizations. By sharing content, our newsrooms feel less small, sure, but we also embrace the overlaps of our audience. We know if you are a worker trying to navigate receiving unemployment benefits, you’re more likely to seek out multiple stories on the subject. In that particular scenario, after writing about the issue for each of their respective outlets, Epicenter-NYC’s reporter Andrea Pineda Salgado teamed up with Documented’s Rommel H. Ojeda to write a story based on workers’ WhatsApp messages to the latter. The collaboration was not rooted in anyone telling them to join forces but rather in the belief that their audiences could benefit from the others’ expertise, platform and distribution.

Our outlets are focused on service to our communities. And so collaboration feels less contrived than necessary. In the process of uplifting our audiences, we are uplifting each other. We feel so strongly about this that we built that mission into our name: URL stands for Uplift, Respect and Love. These actions inform every aspect of our company, and we believe they also send a signal to users on the role we hope to play in each other’s lives.

Going digital is not enough

The pace of change is faster than we can keep up with. I could have had a bot write this prediction (my lazy friend Bill Grueskin beat me to it). In the midst of AI, metaverses and 1,427 platforms claiming to be the next Twitter, legacy newsrooms are still trying to get staff to embrace being “digital first.” Mainstream media are ill prepared for what’s to come. I’ve staked my future on this: The sincere commitment to serve direct, defined audiences and the convening power of multi-platform networks acknowledging overlapping communities in order to achieve scale might give us at least a fighting chance.

S. Mitra Kalita is the co-founder and publisher of Epicenter-NYC and the co-founder and CEO of URL Media.

In 2023, I hope newsrooms understand why audiences are tuning us out and try to do something about it besides stoking another Trump bump.

Journalism today is still executed largely like the journalism of yesterday, from tone to format to process. News is defined by conflict, stories boiled down to two warring sides, presented by a distant, omniscient narrator in order of most important to least important information. The approach basically ends up telling readers: Everything sucks. Good luck to you.

It’s no wonder that news consumption is plummeting and users are left feeling confused or overwhelmed. There are better ways. I share two below from my experiences running Epicenter-NYC and URL Media — with a warning on why the problem stands to get even worse.

Who, what, when, where, why and one more question

You learned the five Ws in journalism school — the questions that every story must answer. At Epicenter-NYC, a newsletter launched to help New Yorkers get through the pandemic that has evolved into a multi-platform community media outlet, we ask one more of sources, whether they are in line at a food pantry or a multimillionaire entrepreneur on a panel: What do you need?

In turn, the stories we produce, whether in article or bullet form, a video or podcast or flyer, anticipate and preemptively address the concern of users and try to answer it: What can I do?

We don’t want you to feel helpless or depressed reading the news. These two fundamental tweaks to our reporting and editing process, searching for needs and offering actions, have made our work much more relevant, distinctive, personal and positive.

Stronger together

Journalists often compete with each other. But the last few years have seen a rise in cohorts, collaborations, and cooperation. Ever less-resourced newsrooms see the value of creating economies of scale. Already, there are many examples of this, including URL Media, the network we run of 16 high-performing Black and Brown media organizations. By sharing content, our newsrooms feel less small, sure, but we also embrace the overlaps of our audience. We know if you are a worker trying to navigate receiving unemployment benefits, you’re more likely to seek out multiple stories on the subject. In that particular scenario, after writing about the issue for each of their respective outlets, Epicenter-NYC’s reporter Andrea Pineda Salgado teamed up with Documented’s Rommel H. Ojeda to write a story based on workers’ WhatsApp messages to the latter. The collaboration was not rooted in anyone telling them to join forces but rather in the belief that their audiences could benefit from the others’ expertise, platform and distribution.

Our outlets are focused on service to our communities. And so collaboration feels less contrived than necessary. In the process of uplifting our audiences, we are uplifting each other. We feel so strongly about this that we built that mission into our name: URL stands for Uplift, Respect and Love. These actions inform every aspect of our company, and we believe they also send a signal to users on the role we hope to play in each other’s lives.

Going digital is not enough

The pace of change is faster than we can keep up with. I could have had a bot write this prediction (my lazy friend Bill Grueskin beat me to it). In the midst of AI, metaverses and 1,427 platforms claiming to be the next Twitter, legacy newsrooms are still trying to get staff to embrace being “digital first.” Mainstream media are ill prepared for what’s to come. I’ve staked my future on this: The sincere commitment to serve direct, defined audiences and the convening power of multi-platform networks acknowledging overlapping communities in order to achieve scale might give us at least a fighting chance.

S. Mitra Kalita is the co-founder and publisher of Epicenter-NYC and the co-founder and CEO of URL Media.

Molly de Aguiar and Mandy Van Deven   Narrative change trend brings new money to journalism

Esther Kezia Thorpe   Subscription pressures force product innovation

Sam Guzik   AI will start fact-checking. We may not like the results.

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Mission-driven metrics become our North Star

Jim VandeHei   There is no “peak newsletter”

Paul Cheung   More news organizations will realize they are in the business of impact, not eyeballs

Basile Simon   Towards supporting criminal accountability

Barbara Raab   More journalism funders will take more risks

Sue Schardt   Toward a new poetics of journalism

Alex Sujong Laughlin   Credit where it’s due

Julia Beizer   News fatigue shows us a clear path forward

Janet Haven   ChatGPT and the future of trust 

Karina Montoya   More reporters on the antitrust beat

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-check (no, really!)

Alexandra Svokos   Working harder to reach audiences where they are

Dominic-Madori Davis   Everyone finally realizes the need for diverse voices in tech reporting

Jenna Weiss-Berman   The economic downturn benefits the podcasting industry. (No, really!)

Jaden Amos   TikTok personality journalists continue to rise

Joni Deutsch   Podcast collaboration — not competition — breeds excellence

David Skok   Renewed interest in human-powered reporting

Gabe Schneider   Well-funded journalism leaders stop making disparate pay

Gordon Crovitz   The year advertisers stop funding misinformation

Ståle Grut   Your newsroom experiences a Midjourney-gate, too

Sam Gregory   Synthetic media forces us to understand how media gets made

Eric Holthaus   As social media fragments, marginalized voices gain more power

Cory Bergman   The AI content flood

Raney Aronson-Rath   Journalists will band together to fight intimidation

Tre'vell Anderson   Continued culpability in anti-trans campaigns

Lisa Heyamoto   The independent news industry gets a roadmap to sustainability

Mar Cabra   The inevitable mental health revolution

David Cohn   AI made this prediction

Dana Lacey   Tech will screw publishers over

Laxmi Parthasarathy   Unlocking the silent demand for international journalism

Jim Friedlich   Local journalism steps up to the challenge of civic coverage

Surya Mattu   Data journalists learn from photojournalists

Daniel Trielli   Trust in news will continue to fall. Just look at Brazil.

Emma Carew Grovum   The year to resist forgetting about diversity

Anika Anand   Independent news businesses lead the way on healthy work cultures

Gina Chua   The traditional story structure gets deconstructed

Cassandra Etienne   Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

Sue Robinson   Engagement journalism will have to confront a tougher reality

Snigdha Sur   Newsrooms get nimble in a recession

Emily Nonko   Incarcerated reporters get more bylines

Michael Schudson   Journalism gets more and more difficult

Jennifer Choi and Jonathan Jackson   Funders finally bet on next-generation news entrepreneurs

Jakob Moll   Journalism startups will think beyond English

Jessica Maddox   Journalists keep getting manipulated by internet culture

Jarrad Henderson   Video editing will help people understand the media they consume

Sue Cross   Thinking and acting collectively to save the news

Christoph Mergerson   The rot at the core of the news business

Doris Truong   Workers demand to be paid what the job is worth

Felicitas Carrique and Becca Aaronson   News product goes from trend to standard

Alan Henry   A reckoning with why trust in news is so low

An Xiao Mina   Journalism in a time of permacrisis

Jesse Holcomb   Buffeted, whipped, bullied, pulled

Don Day   The news about the news is bad. I’m optimistic.

Anthony Nadler   Confronting media gerrymandering

Leezel Tanglao   Community partnerships drive better reporting

Rodney Gibbs   Recalibrating how we work apart

Larry Ryckman   We’ll work together with our competitors

Ryan Gantz   “I’m sorry, but I’m a large language model”

Sumi Aggarwal   Smart newsrooms will prioritize board development

Nicholas Jackson   There will be launches — and we’ll keep doing the work

Amethyst J. Davis   The slight of the great contraction

Al Lucca   Digital news design gets interesting again

Victor Pickard   The year journalism and capitalism finally divorce

Eric Thurm   Journalists think of themselves as workers

Ben Werdmuller   The internet is up for grabs again

Danielle K. Brown and Kathleen Searles   DEI efforts must consider mental health and online abuse

Anna Nirmala   News organizations get new structures

Bill Grueskin   Local news will come to rely on AI

Kavya Sukumar   Belling the cat: The rise of independent fact-checking at scale

Megan Lucero and Shirish Kulkarni   The future of journalism is not you

Jonas Kaiser   Rejecting the “free speech” frame

Walter Frick   Journalists wake up to the power of prediction markets

Jacob L. Nelson   Despite it all, people will still want to be journalists

Francesco Zaffarano   There is no end of “social media”

Michael W. Wagner   The backlash against pro-democracy reporting is coming

Josh Schwartz   The AI spammers are coming

Hillary Frey   Death to the labor-intensive memo for prospective hires

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Well-being will become a core tenet of journalism

Upasna Gautam   Technology that performs at the speed of news

Moreno Cruz Osório   Brazilian journalism turns wounds into action

Dannagal G. Young   Stop rewarding elite performances of identity threat

Sarah Alvarez   Dream bigger or lose out

Richard Tofel   The press might get better at vetting presidential candidates

Khushbu Shah   Global reporting will suffer

Johannes Klingebiel   The innovation team, R.I.P.

Shanté Cosme   The answer to “quiet quitting” is radical empathy

Julia Angwin   Democracies will get serious about saving journalism

Taylor Lorenz   The “creator economy” will be astroturfed

Pia Frey   Publishers start polling their users at scale

Ryan Nave   Citizen journalism, but make it equitable

Kerri Hoffman   Podcasting goes local

Jody Brannon   We’ll embrace policy remedies

Sarah Marshall   A web channel strategy won’t be enough

Alex Perry   New paths to transparency without Twitter

Sarah Stonbely   Growth in public funding for news and information at the state and local levels

John Davidow   A year of intergenerational learning

Joanne McNeil   Facebook and the media kiss and make up

Rachel Glickhouse   Humanizing newsrooms will be a badge of honor

Cari Nazeer and Emily Goligoski   News organizations step up their support for caregivers

Sarabeth Berman   Nonprofit local news shows that it can scale

Stefanie Murray   The year U.S. media stops screwing around and becomes pro-democracy

Tim Carmody   Newsletter writers need a new ethics

Anita Varma   Journalism prioritizes the basic need for survival

Wilson Liévano   Diaspora journalism takes the next step

Susan Chira   Equipping local journalism

S. Mitra Kalita   “Everything sucks. Good luck to you.”

Laura E. Davis   The year we embrace the robots — and ourselves

Brian Moritz   Rebuilding the news bundle

Eric Ulken   Generative AI brings wrongness at scale

Joshua P. Darr   Local to live, wire to wither

Mario García   More newsrooms go mobile-first

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Journalism education faces a crossroads

Burt Herman   The year AI truly arrives — and with it the reckoning

Brian Stelter   Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

Mael Vallejo   More threats to press freedom across the Americas

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Journalists productively harness generative AI tools

Elite Truong   In platform collapse, an opportunity for community

Kirstin McCudden   We’ll codify protection of journalism and newsgathering

Zizi Papacharissi   Platforms are over

Nikki Usher   This is the year of the RSS reader. (Really!)

Kathy Lu   We need emotionally agile newsroom leaders

Ayala Panievsky   It’s time for PR for journalism

Parker Molloy   We’ll reach new heights of moral panic

Peter Bale   Rising costs force more digital innovation

Joe Amditis   AI throws a lifeline to local publishers

Eric Nuzum   A focus on people instead of power

Juleyka Lantigua   Newsrooms recognize women of color as the canaries in the coal mine

A.J. Bauer   Covering the right wrong

Ryan Kellett   Airline-like loyalty programs try to tie down news readers

J. Siguru Wahutu   American journalism reckons with its colonialist tendencies

Jennifer Brandel   AI couldn’t care less. Journalists will care more. 

Andrew Donohue   We’ll find out whether journalism can, indeed, save democracy

Tamar Charney   Flux is the new stability

Jessica Clark   Open discourse retrenches

Priyanjana Bengani   Partisan local news networks will collaborate

Alexandra Borchardt   The year of the climate journalism strategy

Janelle Salanga   Journalists work from a place of harm reduction

Cindy Royal   Yes, journalists should learn to code, but…

Andrew Losowsky   Journalism realizes the replacement for Twitter is not a new Twitter

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   More of the same

Kaitlin C. Miller   Harassment in journalism won’t get better, but we’ll talk about it more openly

Errin Haines   Journalists on the campaign trail mend trust with the public

Mariana Moura Santos   A woman who speaks is a woman who changes the world

Simon Galperin   Philanthropy stops investing in corporate media

Kaitlyn Wells   We’ll prioritize media literacy for children

Peter Sterne   AI enters the newsroom

Masuma Ahuja   Journalism starts working for and with its communities

Martina Efeyini   Talk to Gen Z. They’re the experts of Gen Z.

Mauricio Cabrera   It’s no longer about audiences, it’s about communities

Nicholas Thompson   The year AI actually changes the media business

Delano Massey   The industry shakes its imposter syndrome

Matt Rasnic   More newsroom workers turn to organized labor

Christina Shih   Shared values move from nice-to-haves to essentials

Ariel Zirulnick   Journalism doubles down on user needs