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

“This constant cycle of two-steps-forward, two-steps-back can be disorienting, but it has allowed us to more quickly bring in new people, often those previously excluded from our newsrooms.”

It’s the end of the year — the end of a difficult year that saw layoffs and forced furloughs, mandatory unpaid time off and scheduled strikes over stagnant wages. But it’s still the end of the year, which means more is coming. That’s how it goes, year after year.

And, as it usually does, it will feel to many of us as though the industry can’t take any more — as though we’re constantly contracting. On December 1, Emily Ramshaw, co-founder and CEO of The 19th, tweeted: “So many extraordinary journalists across so many different newsrooms got laid off this week and it’s just…devastating. We have got to keep rethinking how we build news orgs…”

She’s right. And we will — that’s the bright spot. That’s the prediction.

There are entries in this package about improvements to processes, explorations of new platforms, and experiments underway to combat polarization and restore trust. Academics and practitioners both will look to the future and see change. That’s also how it goes, year after year.

That’s because media is always evolving. Some stability would be nice, I agree — or at least I do when thinking about myself and just how much work constant change can be, or how little interest I have in creating a TikTok distribution strategy. But while I don’t want to dismiss individual experiences (I’ve been through layoffs and know how life-altering they can be — see my bio) and while I recognize there are plenty of outlets built for the past that won’t survive in the future, in the aggregate, I believe the evolution is often for the better.

This constant cycle of two-steps-forward, two-steps-back can be disorienting, but it has allowed us to more quickly bring in new people, often those previously excluded from our newsrooms. It means we can explore new ideas and opportunities; we can reach new audiences. Every time, the media that steps forward looks a little different from the one that stepped back.

So while we work through a cold winter, I want to remind you — and myself — of just a few of the things that also happened this year in addition to Semafor’s widely covered launch. There will be more of this too.

  • Building on several launches in 2021, Axios started newsletters in Portland, Miami, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and several other cities across the country.
  • With $7.5 million in funding, Cleveland got a new nonprofit newsroom. With $2 million from the Ford Foundation, so did New Orleans, in Verite. The Baltimore Banner, which has already hired more than 50 journalists, is built on a $50 million commitment over four years, and another $20 million has already been earmarked for a launch in Houston.
  • Also in Baltimore, the Beat has been resurrected in order to “honor the tradition of the Black press and the spirit of alt-weekly journalism.”
  • In January, Grid launched with a goal of contextualizing the news through collaborative beat reporting.
  • Pluribus News is covering the nation’s capitals and state-level policy from D.C.
  • And Emily’s newsroom, groundbreaking for its coverage of politics and policy through a gender lens, is about to enter its fourth year of publishing.

And a few more predictions for the year ahead: Venture capitalists will realize journalism isn’t as easy as they once thought (see the shuttering of Andreessen Horowitz’s Future.com, which was launched in 2021 as part of what then felt like what would be a wave of attempts to bypass traditional outlets that tech founders sometimes see as combative); everything is a magazine now (The Washington Post is closing up its Sunday print magazine ostensibly to cut costs, but as newspapers and digital outlets have further adopted narrative longform, smart packaging, and many other elements more closely associated with magazines, it can be impossible to tell the mediums apart — expect more consolidation and confusion here); and micropayments still won’t happen, even if you want them to (and of course you want them to — everybody would love to pay pennies for a thing that should cost dollars, but that lesson has been learned).

Nicholas Jackson is the senior director of editorial at Built In and former editor-in-chief of Pacific Standard and Atlas Obscura.

It’s the end of the year — the end of a difficult year that saw layoffs and forced furloughs, mandatory unpaid time off and scheduled strikes over stagnant wages. But it’s still the end of the year, which means more is coming. That’s how it goes, year after year.

And, as it usually does, it will feel to many of us as though the industry can’t take any more — as though we’re constantly contracting. On December 1, Emily Ramshaw, co-founder and CEO of The 19th, tweeted: “So many extraordinary journalists across so many different newsrooms got laid off this week and it’s just…devastating. We have got to keep rethinking how we build news orgs…”

She’s right. And we will — that’s the bright spot. That’s the prediction.

There are entries in this package about improvements to processes, explorations of new platforms, and experiments underway to combat polarization and restore trust. Academics and practitioners both will look to the future and see change. That’s also how it goes, year after year.

That’s because media is always evolving. Some stability would be nice, I agree — or at least I do when thinking about myself and just how much work constant change can be, or how little interest I have in creating a TikTok distribution strategy. But while I don’t want to dismiss individual experiences (I’ve been through layoffs and know how life-altering they can be — see my bio) and while I recognize there are plenty of outlets built for the past that won’t survive in the future, in the aggregate, I believe the evolution is often for the better.

This constant cycle of two-steps-forward, two-steps-back can be disorienting, but it has allowed us to more quickly bring in new people, often those previously excluded from our newsrooms. It means we can explore new ideas and opportunities; we can reach new audiences. Every time, the media that steps forward looks a little different from the one that stepped back.

So while we work through a cold winter, I want to remind you — and myself — of just a few of the things that also happened this year in addition to Semafor’s widely covered launch. There will be more of this too.

  • Building on several launches in 2021, Axios started newsletters in Portland, Miami, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and several other cities across the country.
  • With $7.5 million in funding, Cleveland got a new nonprofit newsroom. With $2 million from the Ford Foundation, so did New Orleans, in Verite. The Baltimore Banner, which has already hired more than 50 journalists, is built on a $50 million commitment over four years, and another $20 million has already been earmarked for a launch in Houston.
  • Also in Baltimore, the Beat has been resurrected in order to “honor the tradition of the Black press and the spirit of alt-weekly journalism.”
  • In January, Grid launched with a goal of contextualizing the news through collaborative beat reporting.
  • Pluribus News is covering the nation’s capitals and state-level policy from D.C.
  • And Emily’s newsroom, groundbreaking for its coverage of politics and policy through a gender lens, is about to enter its fourth year of publishing.

And a few more predictions for the year ahead: Venture capitalists will realize journalism isn’t as easy as they once thought (see the shuttering of Andreessen Horowitz’s Future.com, which was launched in 2021 as part of what then felt like what would be a wave of attempts to bypass traditional outlets that tech founders sometimes see as combative); everything is a magazine now (The Washington Post is closing up its Sunday print magazine ostensibly to cut costs, but as newspapers and digital outlets have further adopted narrative longform, smart packaging, and many other elements more closely associated with magazines, it can be impossible to tell the mediums apart — expect more consolidation and confusion here); and micropayments still won’t happen, even if you want them to (and of course you want them to — everybody would love to pay pennies for a thing that should cost dollars, but that lesson has been learned).

Nicholas Jackson is the senior director of editorial at Built In and former editor-in-chief of Pacific Standard and Atlas Obscura.

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