In platform collapse, an opportunity for community

“Have you asked your top readers how they feel about Twitter and Facebook and if they plan to stay, or only your colleagues in journalism?”

We’ve been here before, but now the major social platforms are collapsing at once.

Meta threatened to remove news from Facebook altogether and made business decisions to deprioritize news throughout the year. Twitter is making rapid changes under Elon Musk’s leadership that will affect how creators and publishers reach their audiences on the platform.

We were here not long ago, pivoting from Facebook Live to news video to every form of vertical video until we fell over. We worked with Snapchat news, we put our swipeable stories on Google search and Instagram, we translated our visual stories on every platform. We experimented with Vine and six-second videos, long-form documentaries, and all the other new things that we were paid to try for the next six to twelve months.

After a decade working with platforms, negotiating user experience features and product requirements and accepting their short-term payments to keep up editorial production, I’ve learned that at best, tech platforms’ business objectives will occasionally — sometimes coincidentally — overlap with news goals. There are many earnest, smart, well-meaning journalists working for platforms and fighting the good fight to make product and revenue updates on our behalf. But we can’t change the tides of tech platform leadership deciding if and when news and reported information isn’t necessary to engage users anymore — as we saw with Facebook.

Because this has happened before, we know how to deal with it. If we remember hard-won lessons in the great social pivots past, this is an opportunity to redefine how you reach not only your audience, but how to serve your community — the people who need to know the information your newsroom is covering — as part of a functioning democracy.

As we enter a new year, it’s worth taking the time to plan on building a more resilient audience strategy and withstand external changes like the social pivots we’ve grown to expect. Integrate your audience team and best practices into your reporting and attempt to listen to your readers, listeners, and viewers on how relevant and useful your coverage is to them, and how they want to continue staying connected if not on these platforms.

Recognizing the need to listen and adapt to what their communities want covered, Honolulu Civil Beat invited readers to connect in person over pop up newsrooms in public libraries across Hawaii in order to invite more transparency and learn about what people want them to cover. Ahead of the Georgia runoff election, The Courier Eco Latino and Davis Broadcasting hosted ten remote events interviewing voters at barber shops and beauty salons and an event at the Columbus Library across from the only precinct open for early voting, which drove the largest number of ballots cast in Muskogee County history. Mvskoke Media adopted an editorial strategy that prioritizes “a forecasted approach” on what its Indigenous community needs to know, rather than breaking news.

Mastodon and Post.news are interesting experiments that we can expect to also depart from news (or data privacy) objectives in the future for their own business needs. These are worth experimenting on to see how you can engage with your communities and generate revenue in novel ways. But in the long term, what ways can you connect with your community in active ways with your coverage? Have you asked your top readers how they feel about Twitter and Facebook and if they plan to stay, or only your colleagues in journalism?

A worthwhile gauge to do every so often is to see how many stories might step on each other’s traffic on social, with some succeeding and some never read. Is all of that coverage useful and necessary for your community? Are your reporters and editors incentivized to push forward your journalistic mission through their everyday work, or are they just feeding the beast? How can we prioritize and go for the goal of covering news and distributing information that is useful to the people in our areas and provides a window for others to see what’s happening in our corner of the world? Step back from the social chaos and see what opportunities you have to do better work for the people who need to stay informed around you.

Elite Truong is vice president of product strategy at the American Press Institute.

We’ve been here before, but now the major social platforms are collapsing at once.

Meta threatened to remove news from Facebook altogether and made business decisions to deprioritize news throughout the year. Twitter is making rapid changes under Elon Musk’s leadership that will affect how creators and publishers reach their audiences on the platform.

We were here not long ago, pivoting from Facebook Live to news video to every form of vertical video until we fell over. We worked with Snapchat news, we put our swipeable stories on Google search and Instagram, we translated our visual stories on every platform. We experimented with Vine and six-second videos, long-form documentaries, and all the other new things that we were paid to try for the next six to twelve months.

After a decade working with platforms, negotiating user experience features and product requirements and accepting their short-term payments to keep up editorial production, I’ve learned that at best, tech platforms’ business objectives will occasionally — sometimes coincidentally — overlap with news goals. There are many earnest, smart, well-meaning journalists working for platforms and fighting the good fight to make product and revenue updates on our behalf. But we can’t change the tides of tech platform leadership deciding if and when news and reported information isn’t necessary to engage users anymore — as we saw with Facebook.

Because this has happened before, we know how to deal with it. If we remember hard-won lessons in the great social pivots past, this is an opportunity to redefine how you reach not only your audience, but how to serve your community — the people who need to know the information your newsroom is covering — as part of a functioning democracy.

As we enter a new year, it’s worth taking the time to plan on building a more resilient audience strategy and withstand external changes like the social pivots we’ve grown to expect. Integrate your audience team and best practices into your reporting and attempt to listen to your readers, listeners, and viewers on how relevant and useful your coverage is to them, and how they want to continue staying connected if not on these platforms.

Recognizing the need to listen and adapt to what their communities want covered, Honolulu Civil Beat invited readers to connect in person over pop up newsrooms in public libraries across Hawaii in order to invite more transparency and learn about what people want them to cover. Ahead of the Georgia runoff election, The Courier Eco Latino and Davis Broadcasting hosted ten remote events interviewing voters at barber shops and beauty salons and an event at the Columbus Library across from the only precinct open for early voting, which drove the largest number of ballots cast in Muskogee County history. Mvskoke Media adopted an editorial strategy that prioritizes “a forecasted approach” on what its Indigenous community needs to know, rather than breaking news.

Mastodon and Post.news are interesting experiments that we can expect to also depart from news (or data privacy) objectives in the future for their own business needs. These are worth experimenting on to see how you can engage with your communities and generate revenue in novel ways. But in the long term, what ways can you connect with your community in active ways with your coverage? Have you asked your top readers how they feel about Twitter and Facebook and if they plan to stay, or only your colleagues in journalism?

A worthwhile gauge to do every so often is to see how many stories might step on each other’s traffic on social, with some succeeding and some never read. Is all of that coverage useful and necessary for your community? Are your reporters and editors incentivized to push forward your journalistic mission through their everyday work, or are they just feeding the beast? How can we prioritize and go for the goal of covering news and distributing information that is useful to the people in our areas and provides a window for others to see what’s happening in our corner of the world? Step back from the social chaos and see what opportunities you have to do better work for the people who need to stay informed around you.

Elite Truong is vice president of product strategy at the American Press Institute.

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

Gordon Crovitz   The year advertisers stop funding misinformation

Eric Thurm   Journalists think of themselves as workers

Kathy Lu   We need emotionally agile newsroom leaders

Amethyst J. Davis   The slight of the great contraction

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

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

Sumi Aggarwal   Smart newsrooms will prioritize board development

Parker Molloy   We’ll reach new heights of moral panic

Basile Simon   Towards supporting criminal accountability

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

J. Siguru Wahutu   American journalism reckons with its colonialist tendencies

Esther Kezia Thorpe   Subscription pressures force product innovation

Tre'vell Anderson   Continued culpability in anti-trans campaigns

Eric Nuzum   A focus on people instead of power

Dana Lacey   Tech will screw publishers over

David Cohn   AI made this prediction

Larry Ryckman   We’ll work together with our competitors

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Jessica Maddox   Journalists keep getting manipulated by internet culture

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

Al Lucca   Digital news design gets interesting again

Anthony Nadler   Confronting media gerrymandering

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

John Davidow   A year of intergenerational learning

Jonas Kaiser   Rejecting the “free speech” frame

Simon Galperin   Philanthropy stops investing in corporate media

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

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

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

Sue Schardt   Toward a new poetics of journalism

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   More of the same

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Kaitlyn Wells   We’ll prioritize media literacy for children

Upasna Gautam   Technology that performs at the speed of news

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Anna Nirmala   News organizations get new structures

AX Mina   Journalism in a time of permacrisis

Eric Ulken   Generative AI brings wrongness at scale

Victor Pickard   The year journalism and capitalism finally divorce

Tamar Charney   Flux is the new stability

Priyanjana Bengani   Partisan local news networks will collaborate

Masuma Ahuja   Journalism starts working for and with its communities

Emily Nonko   Incarcerated reporters get more bylines

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

Ben Werdmuller   The internet is up for grabs again

Rodney Gibbs   Recalibrating how we work apart

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

Sarah Alvarez   Dream bigger or lose out

Sarabeth Berman   Nonprofit local news shows that it can scale

Khushbu Shah   Global reporting will suffer

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Surya Mattu   Data journalists learn from photojournalists

Sarah Marshall   A web channel strategy won’t be enough

Jessica Clark   Open discourse retrenches

Mael Vallejo   More threats to press freedom across the Americas

Lisa Heyamoto   The independent news industry gets a roadmap to sustainability

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Janet Haven   ChatGPT and the future of trust 

Josh Schwartz   The AI spammers are coming

Jakob Moll   Journalism startups will think beyond English

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

Michael Schudson   Journalism gets more and more difficult

Joshua P. Darr   Local to live, wire to wither

Jody Brannon   We’ll embrace policy remedies

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

Jim VandeHei   There is no “peak newsletter”

Janelle Salanga   Journalists work from a place of harm reduction

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Joanne McNeil   Facebook and the media kiss and make up

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Richard Tofel   The press might get better at vetting presidential candidates

Gabe Schneider   Well-funded journalism leaders stop making disparate pay

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

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

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

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

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Walter Frick   Journalists wake up to the power of prediction markets

Mar Cabra   The inevitable mental health revolution

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Joni Deutsch   Podcast collaboration — not competition — breeds excellence

Barbara Raab   More journalism funders will take more risks

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

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

Jesse Holcomb   Buffeted, whipped, bullied, pulled

Ryan Nave   Citizen journalism, but make it equitable

Cassandra Etienne   Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

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

Alex Sujong Laughlin   Credit where it’s due

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

Kirstin McCudden   We’ll codify protection of journalism and newsgathering

Julia Angwin   Democracies will get serious about saving journalism

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Emma Carew Grovum   The year to resist forgetting about diversity

Laxmi Parthasarathy   Unlocking the silent demand for international journalism

Joe Amditis   AI throws a lifeline to local publishers

Bill Grueskin   Local news will come to rely on AI

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

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Brian Stelter   Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Journalism education faces a crossroads

Wilson Liévano   Diaspora journalism takes the next step

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David Skok   Renewed interest in human-powered reporting

Matt Rasnic   More newsroom workers turn to organized labor

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A.J. Bauer   Covering the right wrong

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Kerri Hoffman   Podcasting goes local

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