Mission-driven metrics become our North Star

“Gorging on data to micro-target users won’t help us make the major difference necessary to earn people’s trust.”

Surely, somewhere in those dashboards and spreadsheets, the answer to journalism’s failing business model must be hiding. Maybe if we just vacuum up more personal data…

Journalists love data. Newsrooms love data. Sales teams love data. Everyone with a challenge loves data. We’ve never had more of it and yet, we fear we don’t have enough.

In an era where journalism is only slightly more trusted than Congress, gorging on data to micro-target users won’t help us make the major difference necessary to earn people’s trust. According to the Reuters Institute 2022 Digital News Report, only 18% of people in the U.S. say they trust news websites to use their data responsibly.

Obviously, seeking data isn’t wrong, as long as the answers we seek will help us better serve communities. In 2023, the public service news sector should adopt a set of “mission-driven metrics” that help newsrooms gather and analyze data to not only drive decisions that increase reach and revenue, but also evaluate community engagement, representation, and, most importantly, community satisfaction.

The News Revenue Hub is part of a growing cohort of journalism support organizations that exist to ensure the success of independent digital news organizations. We, along with our colleagues at Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, RevLab at Texas Tribune, the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Media Association (LMA), Newspack, Indiegraf, and Blue Lena are positioned to not only provide complementary services, but also advocate for user-centered practices. The Knight Foundation has begun convening service providers with this goal in mind, and we’re already making progress.

Shifting our collective mindset from data mining to mission-driven metrics will fundamentally shift how we relate to news consumers. Instead of digitally stalking users, news teams will spend more time openly engaging with communities and asking people what they want.

Truly mission-driven metrics will show organizations if they’re serving the communities they say they serve; if they’re producing reporting that benefits people. These are the North Star metrics against which we should be judged, and how funding should be justly awarded.

In the future, mission-driven metrics will emerge as the only way news organizations survive the collapse of our business model and continue to build trust in communities. If a united group of committed service providers and funders support that effort, it will answer the questions we’re all asking.

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper are cofounders of News Revenue Hub.

Surely, somewhere in those dashboards and spreadsheets, the answer to journalism’s failing business model must be hiding. Maybe if we just vacuum up more personal data…

Journalists love data. Newsrooms love data. Sales teams love data. Everyone with a challenge loves data. We’ve never had more of it and yet, we fear we don’t have enough.

In an era where journalism is only slightly more trusted than Congress, gorging on data to micro-target users won’t help us make the major difference necessary to earn people’s trust. According to the Reuters Institute 2022 Digital News Report, only 18% of people in the U.S. say they trust news websites to use their data responsibly.

Obviously, seeking data isn’t wrong, as long as the answers we seek will help us better serve communities. In 2023, the public service news sector should adopt a set of “mission-driven metrics” that help newsrooms gather and analyze data to not only drive decisions that increase reach and revenue, but also evaluate community engagement, representation, and, most importantly, community satisfaction.

The News Revenue Hub is part of a growing cohort of journalism support organizations that exist to ensure the success of independent digital news organizations. We, along with our colleagues at Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, RevLab at Texas Tribune, the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Media Association (LMA), Newspack, Indiegraf, and Blue Lena are positioned to not only provide complementary services, but also advocate for user-centered practices. The Knight Foundation has begun convening service providers with this goal in mind, and we’re already making progress.

Shifting our collective mindset from data mining to mission-driven metrics will fundamentally shift how we relate to news consumers. Instead of digitally stalking users, news teams will spend more time openly engaging with communities and asking people what they want.

Truly mission-driven metrics will show organizations if they’re serving the communities they say they serve; if they’re producing reporting that benefits people. These are the North Star metrics against which we should be judged, and how funding should be justly awarded.

In the future, mission-driven metrics will emerge as the only way news organizations survive the collapse of our business model and continue to build trust in communities. If a united group of committed service providers and funders support that effort, it will answer the questions we’re all asking.

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper are cofounders of News Revenue Hub.

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

Masuma Ahuja   Journalism starts working for and with its communities

Lisa Heyamoto   The independent news industry gets a roadmap to sustainability

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

Brian Stelter   Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

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

Larry Ryckman   We’ll work together with our competitors

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

Kerri Hoffman   Podcasting goes local

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

Simon Galperin   Philanthropy stops investing in corporate media

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

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

Ben Werdmuller   The internet is up for grabs again

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

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

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

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

Snigdha Sur   Newsrooms get nimble in a recession

Kirstin McCudden   We’ll codify protection of journalism and newsgathering

Basile Simon   Towards supporting criminal accountability

Eric Nuzum   A focus on people instead of power

Julia Beizer   News fatigue shows us a clear path forward

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

Taylor Lorenz   The “creator economy” will be astroturfed

Emily Nonko   Incarcerated reporters get more bylines

Joshua P. Darr   Local to live, wire to wither

Peter Bale   Rising costs force more digital innovation

Moreno Cruz Osório   Brazilian journalism turns wounds into action

Julia Angwin   Democracies will get serious about saving journalism

Tre'vell Anderson   Continued culpability in anti-trans campaigns

Walter Frick   Journalists wake up to the power of prediction markets

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

Dana Lacey   Tech will screw publishers over

Eric Ulken   Generative AI brings wrongness at scale

Jody Brannon   We’ll embrace policy remedies

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

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

Janelle Salanga   Journalists work from a place of harm reduction

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

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

Esther Kezia Thorpe   Subscription pressures force product innovation

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

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

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

J. Siguru Wahutu   American journalism reckons with its colonialist tendencies

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

Michael Schudson   Journalism gets more and more difficult

Joe Amditis   AI throws a lifeline to local publishers

Surya Mattu   Data journalists learn from photojournalists

Eric Thurm   Journalists think of themselves as workers

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

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

Anita Varma   Journalism prioritizes the basic need for survival

Ayala Panievsky   It’s time for PR for journalism

Anna Nirmala   News organizations get new structures

Karina Montoya   More reporters on the antitrust beat

Dannagal G. Young   Stop rewarding elite performances of identity threat

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

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

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

Amethyst J. Davis   The slight of the great contraction

Tamar Charney   Flux is the new stability

Cassandra Etienne   Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

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

Sumi Aggarwal   Smart newsrooms will prioritize board development

Jessica Clark   Open discourse retrenches

An Xiao Mina   Journalism in a time of permacrisis

Sue Cross   Thinking and acting collectively to save the news

Jesse Holcomb   Buffeted, whipped, bullied, pulled

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

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

Raney Aronson-Rath   Journalists will band together to fight intimidation

Brian Moritz   Rebuilding the news bundle

John Davidow   A year of intergenerational learning

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

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

Delano Massey   The industry shakes its imposter syndrome

Gina Chua   The traditional story structure gets deconstructed

Zizi Papacharissi   Platforms are over

Francesco Zaffarano   There is no end of “social media”

Khushbu Shah   Global reporting will suffer

Jim VandeHei   There is no “peak newsletter”

Emma Carew Grovum   The year to resist forgetting about diversity

Sue Robinson   Engagement journalism will have to confront a tougher reality

Alexandra Svokos   Working harder to reach audiences where they are

Joni Deutsch   Podcast collaboration — not competition — breeds excellence

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

Wilson Liévano   Diaspora journalism takes the next step

Susan Chira   Equipping local journalism

Kaitlyn Wells   We’ll prioritize media literacy for children

Leezel Tanglao   Community partnerships drive better reporting

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Journalism doubles down on user needs

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

Tim Carmody   Newsletter writers need a new ethics

Barbara Raab   More journalism funders will take more risks

Ståle Grut   Your newsroom experiences a Midjourney-gate, too

A.J. Bauer   Covering the right wrong

Rodney Gibbs   Recalibrating how we work apart

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

Pia Frey   Publishers start polling their users at scale

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

Bill Grueskin   Local news will come to rely on AI

Peter Sterne   AI enters the newsroom

Priyanjana Bengani   Partisan local news networks will collaborate

Matt Rasnic   More newsroom workers turn to organized labor

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Journalists productively harness generative AI tools

Janet Haven   ChatGPT and the future of trust 

Jakob Moll   Journalism startups will think beyond English

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

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

Ryan Nave   Citizen journalism, but make it equitable

Upasna Gautam   Technology that performs at the speed of news

Richard Tofel   The press might get better at vetting presidential candidates

Sarabeth Berman   Nonprofit local news shows that it can scale

Alex Sujong Laughlin   Credit where it’s due

Jessica Maddox   Journalists keep getting manipulated by internet culture

David Skok   Renewed interest in human-powered reporting

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

Mar Cabra   The inevitable mental health revolution

Jaden Amos   TikTok personality journalists continue to rise

Kathy Lu   We need emotionally agile newsroom leaders

Josh Schwartz   The AI spammers are coming

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

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

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

Gabe Schneider   Well-funded journalism leaders stop making disparate pay

Joanne McNeil   Facebook and the media kiss and make up

Nicholas Thompson   The year AI actually changes the media business

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

Sarah Marshall   A web channel strategy won’t be enough

David Cohn   AI made this prediction

Mael Vallejo   More threats to press freedom across the Americas

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Journalism education faces a crossroads

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   More of the same

Sue Schardt   Toward a new poetics of journalism

Laxmi Parthasarathy   Unlocking the silent demand for international journalism

Jonas Kaiser   Rejecting the “free speech” frame

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

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

Christoph Mergerson   The rot at the core of the news business

Alex Perry   New paths to transparency without Twitter

Parker Molloy   We’ll reach new heights of moral panic

Alexandra Borchardt   The year of the climate journalism strategy

Victor Pickard   The year journalism and capitalism finally divorce

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

Cory Bergman   The AI content flood

Al Lucca   Digital news design gets interesting again

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

Rachel Glickhouse   Humanizing newsrooms will be a badge of honor

Anthony Nadler   Confronting media gerrymandering

Gordon Crovitz   The year advertisers stop funding misinformation

Elite Truong   In platform collapse, an opportunity for community

Mario García   More newsrooms go mobile-first

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

Sarah Alvarez   Dream bigger or lose out