As social media fragments, marginalized voices gain more power

“Elon Musk just created a new era of social media: Niche verticals of like-minded people that can charge premium advertising rates and accelerate the interests of their communities.”

In November 2022, many people watched Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover with fascination. Some of us also watched with horror.

Here was the richest person in the world, who assembled most of his wealth by building the world’s largest electric vehicle automaker, pivoting to being what appears to be the sole overseer of the world’s most important organizing platform with a renewed penchant for climate denialism — what could go wrong?

As is now abundantly clear, we are in a climate emergency.

The systems that created the climate emergency are built on extraction, colonialism, racism, and white supremacy — the same forces that are now powering Elon Musk’s Twitter. These systems — including policing, capitalism, and borders — are designed to separate us, commodify our lives, and concentrate power in people that are using fascism to keep it.

Every aspect of climate change is intertwined with the dangerous desire to abuse the natural world — and marginalized people — to extract wealth for personal gain. There is no justice without climate justice, and there is no climate justice without the climate movement aligning itself with all other justice-seeking movements.

In fact, according to the IPCC, these systems must be transformed. Achieving our collective goals of limiting climate change requires: “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

The good news is that none of those systems that are accelerating the climate emergency are inevitable or permanent. And what’s more, none of the systems that were designed to harm us are needed to foster a thriving planet where everyone’s lives matter and have meaning.

My prediction is that in 2023, social media will fragment — spurred by Twitter’s ongoing collapse as a left-leaning organizing space — and the social media platforms that emerge will accelerate the rise of the political power of marginalized people in U.S. politics.

I founded Project Mushroom to amplify the voices of marginalized people to achieve climate justice — and our work was just made about 100x easier because of Twitter’s ongoing collapse.

In just four weeks, starting from scratch, Project Mushroom was able to assemble a waitlist of more than 30,000 people, fully fund a $200,000 Kickstarter, and land tens of thousands of dollars in advertising deals from organizations perfectly aligned with our audience — people working for climate justice and willing to partner to make it happen. We were able to charge advertising rates at 3x the national average because of that alignment.

In short, Elon Musk just created a new era of social media: Niche verticals of like-minded people that can charge premium advertising rates and accelerate the interests of their communities.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen what happens when the richest person on Earth brings his personal brand of fascism to what was previously one of the most powerful organizing spaces ever created. Almost overnight, Twitter has lost a vast amount of its usefulness for people wanting to make the world a better place, and our feeds have been flooded with climate denial and climate accelerationism.

Project Mushroom is built as a comprehensive creator platform of like-minded folks and is intended to increase people’s ability to collaborate on meaningful projects that help change the world. This platform is being built to fit creators’ and communities’ broad needs for safety and community — not just as a replacement for Twitter.

Project Mushroom will offer at least four types of creator services: Newsletter hosting/publishing (including setup, maintenance, discoverability, and easy-to-use creator tools via Ghost), live events hosting (audio, video, in person, and creator support), a curated Mastodon-based social media network with paid moderators (that’s already live), and onboarding assistance for your followers to join you (that’s also already live).

All of these services are intended to be free for creators. Not only that, we’ll do our best to support Project Mushroom creators with sustainable funding streams that aren’t evil.

Project Mushroom will be constantly shaped by our creators and subscribers and we are aiming for a horizontal organizational structure that puts the voices of BIPOC folks at the center of everything we do.

This isn’t a typical approach for an organization focused on climate. But then again, typical climate organizations haven’t worked very well so far in limiting the impacts of climate change on marginalized people.

This is a welcome change, because it aligns platforms with their target audiences. Despite Elon Musk’s best intentions otherwise.

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist and the founder of Project Mushroom.

In November 2022, many people watched Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover with fascination. Some of us also watched with horror.

Here was the richest person in the world, who assembled most of his wealth by building the world’s largest electric vehicle automaker, pivoting to being what appears to be the sole overseer of the world’s most important organizing platform with a renewed penchant for climate denialism — what could go wrong?

As is now abundantly clear, we are in a climate emergency.

The systems that created the climate emergency are built on extraction, colonialism, racism, and white supremacy — the same forces that are now powering Elon Musk’s Twitter. These systems — including policing, capitalism, and borders — are designed to separate us, commodify our lives, and concentrate power in people that are using fascism to keep it.

Every aspect of climate change is intertwined with the dangerous desire to abuse the natural world — and marginalized people — to extract wealth for personal gain. There is no justice without climate justice, and there is no climate justice without the climate movement aligning itself with all other justice-seeking movements.

In fact, according to the IPCC, these systems must be transformed. Achieving our collective goals of limiting climate change requires: “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

The good news is that none of those systems that are accelerating the climate emergency are inevitable or permanent. And what’s more, none of the systems that were designed to harm us are needed to foster a thriving planet where everyone’s lives matter and have meaning.

My prediction is that in 2023, social media will fragment — spurred by Twitter’s ongoing collapse as a left-leaning organizing space — and the social media platforms that emerge will accelerate the rise of the political power of marginalized people in U.S. politics.

I founded Project Mushroom to amplify the voices of marginalized people to achieve climate justice — and our work was just made about 100x easier because of Twitter’s ongoing collapse.

In just four weeks, starting from scratch, Project Mushroom was able to assemble a waitlist of more than 30,000 people, fully fund a $200,000 Kickstarter, and land tens of thousands of dollars in advertising deals from organizations perfectly aligned with our audience — people working for climate justice and willing to partner to make it happen. We were able to charge advertising rates at 3x the national average because of that alignment.

In short, Elon Musk just created a new era of social media: Niche verticals of like-minded people that can charge premium advertising rates and accelerate the interests of their communities.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen what happens when the richest person on Earth brings his personal brand of fascism to what was previously one of the most powerful organizing spaces ever created. Almost overnight, Twitter has lost a vast amount of its usefulness for people wanting to make the world a better place, and our feeds have been flooded with climate denial and climate accelerationism.

Project Mushroom is built as a comprehensive creator platform of like-minded folks and is intended to increase people’s ability to collaborate on meaningful projects that help change the world. This platform is being built to fit creators’ and communities’ broad needs for safety and community — not just as a replacement for Twitter.

Project Mushroom will offer at least four types of creator services: Newsletter hosting/publishing (including setup, maintenance, discoverability, and easy-to-use creator tools via Ghost), live events hosting (audio, video, in person, and creator support), a curated Mastodon-based social media network with paid moderators (that’s already live), and onboarding assistance for your followers to join you (that’s also already live).

All of these services are intended to be free for creators. Not only that, we’ll do our best to support Project Mushroom creators with sustainable funding streams that aren’t evil.

Project Mushroom will be constantly shaped by our creators and subscribers and we are aiming for a horizontal organizational structure that puts the voices of BIPOC folks at the center of everything we do.

This isn’t a typical approach for an organization focused on climate. But then again, typical climate organizations haven’t worked very well so far in limiting the impacts of climate change on marginalized people.

This is a welcome change, because it aligns platforms with their target audiences. Despite Elon Musk’s best intentions otherwise.

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist and the founder of Project Mushroom.

Brian Moritz   Rebuilding the news bundle

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

Amethyst J. Davis   The slight of the great contraction

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

Sue Schardt   Toward a new poetics of journalism

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

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

Joni Deutsch   Podcast collaboration — not competition — breeds excellence

Alex Perry   New paths to transparency without Twitter

Ryan Nave   Citizen journalism, but make it equitable

Gordon Crovitz   The year advertisers stop funding misinformation

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

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

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

Rodney Gibbs   Recalibrating how we work apart

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

Jaden Amos   TikTok personality journalists continue to rise

Sue Robinson   Engagement journalism will have to confront a tougher reality

Victor Pickard   The year journalism and capitalism finally divorce

Gina Chua   The traditional story structure gets deconstructed

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

Brian Stelter   Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

Dana Lacey   Tech will screw publishers over

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

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

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

Jessica Clark   Open discourse retrenches

Alexandra Svokos   Working harder to reach audiences where they are

Larry Ryckman   We’ll work together with our competitors

Basile Simon   Towards supporting criminal accountability

Eric Nuzum   A focus on people instead of power

Priyanjana Bengani   Partisan local news networks will collaborate

Julia Angwin   Democracies will get serious about saving journalism

Emily Nonko   Incarcerated reporters get more bylines

Matt Rasnic   More newsroom workers turn to organized labor

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

Cory Bergman   The AI content flood

Sarah Marshall   A web channel strategy won’t be enough

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

Rachel Glickhouse   Humanizing newsrooms will be a badge of honor

David Cohn   AI made this prediction

Wilson Liévano   Diaspora journalism takes the next step

Sumi Aggarwal   Smart newsrooms will prioritize board development

Julia Beizer   News fatigue shows us a clear path forward

Richard Tofel   The press might get better at vetting presidential candidates

Eric Thurm   Journalists think of themselves as workers

Moreno Cruz Osório   Brazilian journalism turns wounds into action

Joanne McNeil   Facebook and the media kiss and make up

Dannagal G. Young   Stop rewarding elite performances of identity threat

Cassandra Etienne   Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

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

Sue Cross   Thinking and acting collectively to save the news

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

Janet Haven   ChatGPT and the future of trust 

Kerri Hoffman   Podcasting goes local

Anita Varma   Journalism prioritizes the basic need for survival

Michael Schudson   Journalism gets more and more difficult

Joe Amditis   AI throws a lifeline to local publishers

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

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

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

Josh Schwartz   The AI spammers are coming

AX Mina   Journalism in a time of permacrisis

Surya Mattu   Data journalists learn from photojournalists

Zizi Papacharissi   Platforms are over

Francesco Zaffarano   There is no end of “social media”

Jonas Kaiser   Rejecting the “free speech” frame

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

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   More of the same

Walter Frick   Journalists wake up to the power of prediction markets

Christoph Mergerson   The rot at the core of the news business

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

Sarabeth Berman   Nonprofit local news shows that it can scale

Mar Cabra   The inevitable mental health revolution

Taylor Lorenz   The “creator economy” will be astroturfed

Alex Sujong Laughlin   Credit where it’s due

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

Sarah Alvarez   Dream bigger or lose out

Janelle Salanga   Journalists work from a place of harm reduction

Karina Montoya   More reporters on the antitrust beat

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

Jim VandeHei   There is no “peak newsletter”

Upasna Gautam   Technology that performs at the speed of news

Snigdha Sur   Newsrooms get nimble in a recession

Anna Nirmala   News organizations get new structures

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

Nicholas Thompson   The year AI actually changes the media business

Bill Grueskin   Local news will come to rely on AI

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

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

Tre'vell Anderson   Continued culpability in anti-trans campaigns

Susan Chira   Equipping local journalism

Peter Sterne   AI enters the newsroom

Ben Werdmuller   The internet is up for grabs again

Ayala Panievsky   It’s time for PR for journalism

Khushbu Shah   Global reporting will suffer

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

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

Al Lucca   Digital news design gets interesting again

Ståle Grut   Your newsroom experiences a Midjourney-gate, too

Tamar Charney   Flux is the new stability

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

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

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

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

Pia Frey   Publishers start polling their users at scale

Delano Massey   The industry shakes its imposter syndrome

A.J. Bauer   Covering the right wrong

Gabe Schneider   Well-funded journalism leaders stop making disparate pay

Alexandra Borchardt   The year of the climate journalism strategy

Kirstin McCudden   We’ll codify protection of journalism and newsgathering

Tim Carmody   Newsletter writers need a new ethics

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

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

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

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

Jesse Holcomb   Buffeted, whipped, bullied, pulled

Esther Kezia Thorpe   Subscription pressures force product innovation

Leezel Tanglao   Community partnerships drive better reporting

Simon Galperin   Philanthropy stops investing in corporate media

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

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

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

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Journalism education faces a crossroads

Jessica Maddox   Journalists keep getting manipulated by internet culture

Masuma Ahuja   Journalism starts working for and with its communities

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

J. Siguru Wahutu   American journalism reckons with its colonialist tendencies

Jakob Moll   Journalism startups will think beyond English

Lisa Heyamoto   The independent news industry gets a roadmap to sustainability

Jody Brannon   We’ll embrace policy remedies

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

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

Mario García   More newsrooms go mobile-first

John Davidow   A year of intergenerational learning

Kaitlyn Wells   We’ll prioritize media literacy for children

Parker Molloy   We’ll reach new heights of moral panic

Emma Carew Grovum   The year to resist forgetting about diversity

Elite Truong   In platform collapse, an opportunity for community

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

Barbara Raab   More journalism funders will take more risks

David Skok   Renewed interest in human-powered reporting

Raney Aronson-Rath   Journalists will band together to fight intimidation

Laxmi Parthasarathy   Unlocking the silent demand for international journalism

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

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

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

Joshua P. Darr   Local to live, wire to wither

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

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Journalists productively harness generative AI tools

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

Eric Ulken   Generative AI brings wrongness at scale

Anthony Nadler   Confronting media gerrymandering

Kathy Lu   We need emotionally agile newsroom leaders

Mael Vallejo   More threats to press freedom across the Americas

Peter Bale   Rising costs force more digital innovation

Ariel Zirulnick   Journalism doubles down on user needs