Towards supporting criminal accountability

“I eagerly await the large ‘merchants of truth,’ news organizations that trade on their production of accurate records, marketing their ability to establish provenance and unbroken integrity, from capture to their client’s screen.”

For some years, our team tracked civilian harm resulting from air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, then against more adversaries in more countries. And during these years, as I spoke with colleagues at the Syrian Archive and the IIIM Syria, who were all diligently collecting and archiving in the hope of legal proceedings some years or decades down the line, I wondered how much weight our stuff would have. Legally, I mean.

Then the large-scale invasion of Ukraine happened, and suddenly it’s a whole different world out there. The Economist famously wrote that OSINT has “come of age,” but it’s not just OSINT. Archivists and lawyers around the world have sharpened their axes, and thanks to abundant promises of funding, a wealth of folks are working on documenting the conflict and the atrocities it’s led to.

I think a couple of things will take even more shape in 2023 than they did this year, as far as new practices and sensibilities towards the legal world are being refined. Most notably, I feel there’s a newfound keenness on testifying, or at least on being part of bringing justice — and it will be shaping journalistic practices in 2023 in two notable ways.

Authenticated-at-source capture is a new USP

From a business and product point of view, I think initiatives such as the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA, whose members include Adobe, the BBC, Intel, and Microsoft) as well as the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI, which includes Adobe, The New York Times, and Twitter) are but precursors to a broader shift: the leap from trust in the media to trust in the material itself.

I eagerly await the large “merchants of truth,” news organizations that trade on their production of accurate records, marketing their ability to establish provenance and unbroken integrity, from capture to their client’s screen. It’s not tamper-free because Reputable Newswire says it is — you can see it for yourself, thanks to this little green checkmark, or whichever UI we come up with to denote self-authenticating cryptographic properties. Looking further ahead, Secure Enclave-type chips will permit safe and strong cryptography in professional camera bodies themselves.

In both cases, the challenge is communicating to the audience how novel and strong this self-authenticating material is in terms of trusting what they can see.

Collaborations and more comfortable links between journalists and CSOs

As if we needed more of the same debate about who’s a journalist and who’s not, I think there’ll be a more porous border between the world of OSINT analysts and newsrooms or small publishing organizations. And call me nostalgic for my days producing graphics, but I think the bridge between the two worlds is graphics and deep research — “Visual Investigations,” in New York Times parlance.

I think newsrooms will grow more and more comfortable working in partnership with shops specializing in this kind of work, and I think the result of this marriage could be very strong material for legal proceedings, in addition to being extraordinary storytelling pieces.

Pieces like the collaboration between the Associated Press and SITU, as well as fascinating projects aimed towards both the general public and an audience of prosecutors in The Hague, mixing VR and drone videos, and sharp and focused event reconstructions are the areas I see as the most productive and forming the most fruitful cross-disciplinary thinking.

Anecdotally, colleagues who’ve returned from Ukraine (as well as one for Ethiopia) all mentioned more or less casually that they’d been treating their research, notes, and B-rolls differently — as if to be more “ready” should they be called to testify in front of an international body or court. All sought advice ahead of their trip regarding best practices for documentation, and some were directed to published resources such as the Witness Video as Evidence field guide by colleagues and professional organizations.

Should my predictions be proved wrong (and thanks to Nieman Lab for not checking the scoreboard), there’s at least that.

Basile Simon is director of special projects at Stanford and USC’s Starling Lab for Data Integrity.

For some years, our team tracked civilian harm resulting from air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, then against more adversaries in more countries. And during these years, as I spoke with colleagues at the Syrian Archive and the IIIM Syria, who were all diligently collecting and archiving in the hope of legal proceedings some years or decades down the line, I wondered how much weight our stuff would have. Legally, I mean.

Then the large-scale invasion of Ukraine happened, and suddenly it’s a whole different world out there. The Economist famously wrote that OSINT has “come of age,” but it’s not just OSINT. Archivists and lawyers around the world have sharpened their axes, and thanks to abundant promises of funding, a wealth of folks are working on documenting the conflict and the atrocities it’s led to.

I think a couple of things will take even more shape in 2023 than they did this year, as far as new practices and sensibilities towards the legal world are being refined. Most notably, I feel there’s a newfound keenness on testifying, or at least on being part of bringing justice — and it will be shaping journalistic practices in 2023 in two notable ways.

Authenticated-at-source capture is a new USP

From a business and product point of view, I think initiatives such as the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA, whose members include Adobe, the BBC, Intel, and Microsoft) as well as the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI, which includes Adobe, The New York Times, and Twitter) are but precursors to a broader shift: the leap from trust in the media to trust in the material itself.

I eagerly await the large “merchants of truth,” news organizations that trade on their production of accurate records, marketing their ability to establish provenance and unbroken integrity, from capture to their client’s screen. It’s not tamper-free because Reputable Newswire says it is — you can see it for yourself, thanks to this little green checkmark, or whichever UI we come up with to denote self-authenticating cryptographic properties. Looking further ahead, Secure Enclave-type chips will permit safe and strong cryptography in professional camera bodies themselves.

In both cases, the challenge is communicating to the audience how novel and strong this self-authenticating material is in terms of trusting what they can see.

Collaborations and more comfortable links between journalists and CSOs

As if we needed more of the same debate about who’s a journalist and who’s not, I think there’ll be a more porous border between the world of OSINT analysts and newsrooms or small publishing organizations. And call me nostalgic for my days producing graphics, but I think the bridge between the two worlds is graphics and deep research — “Visual Investigations,” in New York Times parlance.

I think newsrooms will grow more and more comfortable working in partnership with shops specializing in this kind of work, and I think the result of this marriage could be very strong material for legal proceedings, in addition to being extraordinary storytelling pieces.

Pieces like the collaboration between the Associated Press and SITU, as well as fascinating projects aimed towards both the general public and an audience of prosecutors in The Hague, mixing VR and drone videos, and sharp and focused event reconstructions are the areas I see as the most productive and forming the most fruitful cross-disciplinary thinking.

Anecdotally, colleagues who’ve returned from Ukraine (as well as one for Ethiopia) all mentioned more or less casually that they’d been treating their research, notes, and B-rolls differently — as if to be more “ready” should they be called to testify in front of an international body or court. All sought advice ahead of their trip regarding best practices for documentation, and some were directed to published resources such as the Witness Video as Evidence field guide by colleagues and professional organizations.

Should my predictions be proved wrong (and thanks to Nieman Lab for not checking the scoreboard), there’s at least that.

Basile Simon is director of special projects at Stanford and USC’s Starling Lab for Data Integrity.

Al Lucca   Digital news design gets interesting again

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

Tim Carmody   Newsletter writers need a new ethics

Cassandra Etienne   Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

Kaitlyn Wells   We’ll prioritize media literacy for children

Elite Truong   In platform collapse, an opportunity for community

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

Lisa Heyamoto   The independent news industry gets a roadmap to sustainability

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

Cory Bergman   The AI content flood

Jonas Kaiser   Rejecting the “free speech” frame

Ayala Panievsky   It’s time for PR for journalism

Basile Simon   Towards supporting criminal accountability

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

Mael Vallejo   More threats to press freedom across the Americas

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

Matt Rasnic   More newsroom workers turn to organized labor

Jody Brannon   We’ll embrace policy remedies

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

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

Laxmi Parthasarathy   Unlocking the silent demand for international journalism

Jim VandeHei   There is no “peak newsletter”

Joe Amditis   AI throws a lifeline to local publishers

Joni Deutsch   Podcast collaboration — not competition — breeds excellence

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

Khushbu Shah   Global reporting will suffer

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

Parker Molloy   We’ll reach new heights of moral panic

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

Dannagal G. Young   Stop rewarding elite performances of identity threat

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

Ryan Nave   Citizen journalism, but make it equitable

Delano Massey   The industry shakes its imposter syndrome

Amethyst J. Davis   The slight of the great contraction

Zizi Papacharissi   Platforms are over

Surya Mattu   Data journalists learn from photojournalists

Kathy Lu   We need emotionally agile newsroom leaders

Eric Ulken   Generative AI brings wrongness at scale

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

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

Alexandra Svokos   Working harder to reach audiences where they are

Peter Bale   Rising costs force more digital innovation

Joanne McNeil   Facebook and the media kiss and make up

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

Christoph Mergerson   The rot at the core of the news business

Anita Varma   Journalism prioritizes the basic need for survival

Janelle Salanga   Journalists work from a place of harm reduction

Nicholas Thompson   The year AI actually changes the media business

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

Pia Frey   Publishers start polling their users at scale

Julia Beizer   News fatigue shows us a clear path forward

John Davidow   A year of intergenerational learning

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

Sue Cross   Thinking and acting collectively to save the news

Alexandra Borchardt   The year of the climate journalism strategy

Kerri Hoffman   Podcasting goes local

Gabe Schneider   Well-funded journalism leaders stop making disparate pay

Masuma Ahuja   Journalism starts working for and with its communities

Anna Nirmala   News organizations get new structures

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

Sarabeth Berman   Nonprofit local news shows that it can scale

Barbara Raab   More journalism funders will take more risks

Eric Nuzum   A focus on people instead of power

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

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

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

Dana Lacey   Tech will screw publishers over

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Journalism education faces a crossroads

Rachel Glickhouse   Humanizing newsrooms will be a badge of honor

Simon Galperin   Philanthropy stops investing in corporate media

Mar Cabra   The inevitable mental health revolution

Alex Sujong Laughlin   Credit where it’s due

Esther Kezia Thorpe   Subscription pressures force product innovation

Brian Moritz   Rebuilding the news bundle

Jesse Holcomb   Buffeted, whipped, bullied, pulled

Janet Haven   ChatGPT and the future of trust 

Sarah Alvarez   Dream bigger or lose out

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

Emma Carew Grovum   The year to resist forgetting about diversity

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

Eric Thurm   Journalists think of themselves as workers

Leezel Tanglao   Community partnerships drive better reporting

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

Michael Schudson   Journalism gets more and more difficult

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Journalism doubles down on user needs

Rodney Gibbs   Recalibrating how we work apart

Francesco Zaffarano   There is no end of “social media”

Priyanjana Bengani   Partisan local news networks will collaborate

Josh Schwartz   The AI spammers are coming

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

Emily Nonko   Incarcerated reporters get more bylines

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

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

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

Brian Stelter   Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

Larry Ryckman   We’ll work together with our competitors

Sumi Aggarwal   Smart newsrooms will prioritize board development

Sue Robinson   Engagement journalism will have to confront a tougher reality

Peter Sterne   AI enters the newsroom

Jessica Maddox   Journalists keep getting manipulated by internet culture

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   More of the same

Snigdha Sur   Newsrooms get nimble in a recession

Richard Tofel   The press might get better at vetting presidential candidates

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

Gina Chua   The traditional story structure gets deconstructed

A.J. Bauer   Covering the right wrong

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

Ståle Grut   Your newsroom experiences a Midjourney-gate, too

David Cohn   AI made this prediction

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

Victor Pickard   The year journalism and capitalism finally divorce

AX Mina   Journalism in a time of permacrisis

Jaden Amos   TikTok personality journalists continue to rise

Sarah Marshall   A web channel strategy won’t be enough

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

Anthony Nadler   Confronting media gerrymandering

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

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

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

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

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

Sue Schardt   Toward a new poetics of journalism

Upasna Gautam   Technology that performs at the speed of news

Joshua P. Darr   Local to live, wire to wither

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

Alex Perry   New paths to transparency without Twitter

Julia Angwin   Democracies will get serious about saving journalism

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Journalists productively harness generative AI tools

David Skok   Renewed interest in human-powered reporting

Taylor Lorenz   The “creator economy” will be astroturfed

Tre'vell Anderson   Continued culpability in anti-trans campaigns

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

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

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

Mario García   More newsrooms go mobile-first

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

Ben Werdmuller   The internet is up for grabs again

Gordon Crovitz   The year advertisers stop funding misinformation

Bill Grueskin   Local news will come to rely on AI

Raney Aronson-Rath   Journalists will band together to fight intimidation

Moreno Cruz Osório   Brazilian journalism turns wounds into action

Karina Montoya   More reporters on the antitrust beat

Wilson Liévano   Diaspora journalism takes the next step

J. Siguru Wahutu   American journalism reckons with its colonialist tendencies

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

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

Tamar Charney   Flux is the new stability

Kirstin McCudden   We’ll codify protection of journalism and newsgathering

Jakob Moll   Journalism startups will think beyond English

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

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

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

Susan Chira   Equipping local journalism

Jessica Clark   Open discourse retrenches

Walter Frick   Journalists wake up to the power of prediction markets

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