Predictions for Journalism 2016

Each year, we ask some of the smartest people in journalism and digital media what they think is coming in the next 12 months. Here’s what they had to say.

Most recent first Random order
Jennifer Choi
Engaging audiences for better civic discourse
“Journalists are expert empathizers — audiences will come to value this rare skill and pay for it, even if they don’t always agree with your content.”
Michael Schudson
Why predict?
“More private and much more public. More mobile and more stationary. And I think not only more shallow but more deep.”
Sue Schardt
Forecast: Consistency
“We can choose to reinforce a collective helplessness at the disparity and division marking our country and the world today. Or we can use this time of chaos, which is ripe for influencing and shaping the future.”
Heather Billings
Static is the new interactive
“As more publishers seek to take advantage of AMP and its share of mobile traffic, simpler graphics will be employed for speed and ease of implementation. “
Sisi Wei
The year of big illustrations
“Browse the best of print design in journalism — any year — and you’ll see enticing, creative, beautiful double truck illustrations that cover topics ranging from the serious to the silly. But browse the best of digital design in journalism and illustrations are sparse.”
Amie Ferris-Rotman
“Today’s young news consumers expect balanced coverage of gender-related topics, are used to hearing more diverse voices, and are, quite frankly, bored of the seemingly endless stream of identikit men in the media.”
Erin Pettigrew
The year of reckoning
“Technology is a larger and better-capitalized challenger. Coming to the table as equals to negotiate a fair split requires more resources, audience, and assets than many publishers currently have.”
M. Scott Havens
A shift to quality
“Many, not all, of these digital publishers rely on an endless stream of unsubstantial viral debris, a model that is beginning to falter, and their valuations will begin their reversion to the mean.”
Tracie Powell
The year we get our ethical houses in order
“No longer should reporters and editors take police narratives as the gospel truth, or the only side of a story that should get reported.”
Dan Gillmor
Journalists turn activist
“If journalists won’t take a stand for core liberties like free expression — and then be leaders in the campaign to save or restore them — we’ll be fit to call ourselves entertainers, and not much else.”
Mathew Ingram
Media companies lose even more control
“In a way, it was probably easier to be Job, because at least he knew who was trying to test his faith. All traditional media companies know is that the world they used to rely on is crumbling, and there’s no one to blame.”
Mandy Velez
Women get treated as equal consumers of news
“These are issues that women, as human beings, care about and now don’t have to click out of their favorite gender-focused site to find.”
Pablo Boczkowski
When the media melted into the air
“The top-down news infrastructure of the previous century has not been replaced by a grassroots, bottom-up alternative. What has emerged instead is a matrix that combines the concentration of ownership and attention of the legacy media system with the distribution of communication flows of daily life.”
Mark S. Luckie
Adele and the death of clickbait
“A hastily written article may net a few hundred or a few thousand clicks (if you’re lucky) — maybe more if it gains traction. But digital natives have wised up.”
Dan Colarusso
The year of monetizing dangerously
“Despite the great traffic we’ll see on native videos on Facebook or a pageview pop we get off a pickup, there has to be more gold at the end of these rainbows.”
Marie Gilot
“Spotlight” shows the power of true teamwork
“Like The Avengers, but with FOIAgirl and Spreadsheetman.”
Renée Kaplan
Secrets of a successful relationship
“We still want to know how the story does, but we’ll also be very curious about what audiences do — and what that behavior tells us about them.”
Mira Lowe
The amplification of audio storytelling
“What are the stories that are going to break through the noise? Which topics would inspire engagement and build community?”
Hassan Hodges
The year lines disappear
“How does journalism evolve to cover news that is fundamentally different not just in how we operate, but also in how the topics we’re covering operate? Who is a newsmaker?”
Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie
Behind closed doors: The new social media
“What we’re seeing is a movement away from public or semi-public social platforms to platforms that are much more closed and private.”
Felix Salmon
Cleanliness is next to godliness
“Ads have been getting increasingly annoying for years; they’re not going to suddenly become demure and well behaved overnight. But, for the first time since the web was invented, 2016 will be a year when adtech is forced into retreat.”
Richard Tofel
The press grapples with demagoguery
“Surely it has become clear that publishing and then fact-checking is not enough.”
Trushar Barot
The botification of news
“If I ask my AI personal assistant, ‘What’s the most important news story of today?’ how will it determine what that is for me, and where will it go looking to deliver me the story?”
Dylan Smith
Scaling down the hype in local news
“What we need is not more reporters and editors working for lumbering chain media, but instead more local news entrepreneurs who can bring together teams with business smarts, reporting chops, and deep community knowledge to kick ass, take names, and cash checks.”
Cory Bergman
The rise of frictionless video
“Frictionless video is irresistible. You didn’t even know you made a conscious choice to watch and engage with it. There’s no searching or playlisting or hitting play or loading or waiting through a preroll.”
Kawandeep Virdee
When recommendations become news
“It is a subtle, and concrete shift. Pages look back on the reader, seeing to a finer resolution the moments of the reading experience — start, scroll down, scroll up, play, watching, finish — and dynamically adjust.”
Alfred Hermida
The five Es of journalism in 2016
“Experimentation is becoming far more than just an add-on: It is emerging as a prerequisite for survival at a time of flux and uncertainty.”
Brandon Silverman
Numbers, numbers everywhere
“Despite a lot of understandable anxiety about the overall dynamic, I’m bullish that major social platforms will prove they are and want to be great partners for newsrooms.”
David Chavern
Figuring out digital ads, learning to love print again
“Print is again going to attract advertisers who are willing to say: ‘I don’t care about being cool. I want to drive big sales at a good price.'”
Libby Bawcombe
Usability overtakes design
“Imagine the time you can devote to user experience when you choose not to debate which shade of grey speaks to your brand voice!”
Celeste LeCompte
Thank god for adblocking
“The newsroom’s creativity over the past few years has been part of a radical reimagining of what journalism looks like. Revenue models need to undergo a similar transformation.”
Julia Beizer
When we start getting creative about engagement
“How might we more naturally bring readers from one story to another? How might we recreate the serendipity readers create for themselves while jaunting through the web?”
Rex Sorgatz
The podcasting scene will explode
“Media companies will continue adapting their franchises to podcasts, agencies will empower brands to create new shows, podcasting networks will devise new aural experiments, and even more independents will pop up from unexpected places.”
Erik Diehn
If you make good content, people will pay for it
“When you hand over a credit card, you value the product you get in return more than you value the brief, transactional moment you enjoy with a listicle that drifts past you in your Facebook feed.”
Carla Zanoni
Print is dead, but print’s skills aren’t
“Trimming copy, optimizing graphics for smaller space, curating the day’s best content, and understanding the best typography to tell a story are as valuable when laying out print as when putting together a Snapchat Discover edition or tweet.”
Tiff Fehr
Avoiding the trap of shadow narratives
“When we elevate immediate reactions to the same level as more measured narratives, we spring a trap on ourselves and our readers.”
Valerie Belair-Gagnon & Taylor Owen
The multiple faces of witnessing
“Footage gathered by ‘citizen camera witnesses’ and professional journalists will increasingly be used to promote greater connection to and understanding of events, and to ultimately decrease the distance between the lives and experiences of others.”
Ryan Gantz
The year we all dogearmark our bitscriptions, contextually
“When 2016 draws to a close, we’ll look out at each other across that pulsing quasar of perfect connected knowledge and creative citizenry, and we’ll smile.”
Edward Roussel
A year of bold risk-taking
“The bigger a company becomes, the more its culture becomes risk averse. There is often a heavy price to pay in terms of creativity and experimentation. But caution is also a risk.”
Katie Zhu
The year of the splinter site
“Journalism shouldn’t live or die by the number of eyeballs or the number of shares it attracts. Focusing myopically on scale and continuing to optimize for the largest possible audience compels us to the lowest common denominator of editorial quality.”
Jamie Mottram
Distributed content becomes the norm
“It’s early still, but (a) our content is being viewed at a higher volume than before, and (b) we’re monetizing those views at a higher rate.”
Ted Williams
Nationals wake up to the opportunity in local media
“Make no mistake, the financial rewards for building tomorrow’s Gannett, Lee, Tribune, and McClatchy are massive.”
Maria Bustillos
News isn’t for the billionaire few
“Media should never be permitted to become a mere megaphone for the exclusive use of the rich to impose their views on the rest of us.”
Andrew Losowsky
Time to rebrand comments
“The focus will shift from ‘Say anything, whoever you are’ to ‘How can our most dedicated readers contribute — to the debate, to the reporting, to the work of our journalists?'”
Carrie Brown-Smith
Invest in people
“The tech tools that we rely on to engage and grow our audiences are powered by people, and dedicated, hard-working staff are our most important asset.”
Nick Petrie
The year news slows down
“We’ve been curating the news for almost 200 years — the technology has changed, the fundamental needs of our readers have not.”
Jan Schaffer
Journalism as relationship building
“By reaching out with targeted calls for information and keeping the conversation going, these journalists created stories that were deeply informed by their audiences — and that wouldn’t have happened without those interchanges.”
Sasha Koren
Pay attention to distraction
“There’s a big question I think we need to ask ourselves as an industry: Where does this constant shift in attention and loyalty leave news organizations in five or 10 years?”
Mariana Moura Santos
Bringing women into tech
“Diversity is a no brainer; a change in this unbalance must happen.”
Nonny de la Pena
Walk inside the news
“The scenes of major news stories will also be scanned, and audiences will be walking around “inside” them rather than watching them on a screen.”
Tim Carmody
The evolution of autoplay
“To give you what you want without you having to ask for it — before you even were certain that you wanted it — is the condition to which all media aspires. It’s why social media has been so successful — it’s a subset of the web, lightly tailored to our preferences, that never stops.”
Melody Kramer
The most exciting company in media sells a card game
“The Cards Against Humanity team is smart, they’re independent, they make money despite releasing their entire product online for free — and they’re building something much larger than a late night party game.”
Dan Check
The year of the loyal reader
“The old way of thinking about experiences by device (e.g., desktop, tablet, phone, paper) has given way to thinking about experiences by type of user.”
Ryan Sholin
The year single-subject sites reach your neighborhood
“It’s not going to be easy to make more of the deep expertise from these vertical news organizations accessible to the most casual audiences. But that’s the work that awaits us in 2016.”
Molly de Aguiar
Building news with, not just for, the community
“We need to fund more creativity in the newsroom. We also need to have more patience; building relationships — even for the most adept news organizations — takes time.”
AX Mina
Adapting to a more global, more diverse Internet
“Thanks to denser networks that foster better pipelines for attention, the Internet gives communities a pathway directly to newsrooms.”
Michael Oreskes
Journalism on the comeback trail
“My generation’s struggle to integrate new ways with old values will pass from the scene. They will inherit from us the continuing struggle to build sustainable ways to support journalism and engage with our consumers.”
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen
The mobile money challenge
“Most news organizations are still approaching the mobile web the way they approached the desktop web in the 1990s: Let’s build an audience first and figure out the money later.”
Kaeti Hinck
Diversity or fail
“The most incisive journalism will be from newsrooms that have a diverse staff — and top leadership that reflects that diversity.”
Lauren Henry Scholz
Big privacy hits the mainstream
“The caricature of a company with significant market power that is willfully indifferent and hostile to consumer privacy concerns is outmoded. Big privacy is coming.”
Caitlin Thompson
The last mass medium finally emerges
“As streaming on-demand content grows, we’ll see the rise of audio discovery outside of a dedicated app, and integrated into the ways we already share content on social streams, the open web, and on mobile.”
Sydette Harry
The year content claps back
“Journalistic standards and practice are being pushed more into the open. Everything from freedom of the press to representation in media is on the table.”
H.O. Maycotte
Big data triggers predictive journalism
“By using available data, journalists will be able to orchestrate predictions and write tomorrow’s headlines and stories accordingly.”
Bill Keller
The train stops here
“We should resign ourselves to decades of instability, which in these days of diminishing attention spans is pretty close to a permanent condition.”
Edward Lichty
Rise of the small
“In 2016, we’ll move beyond isolated examples to see a growing wave of small independent publishers launching publications and starting to achieve success.”
S. Mitra Kalita
It’s called reporting
“Shoe-leather reporting is rewarded because it represents the best of the Internet: authenticity, intimacy, access, an emotional connection.”
Laura E. Davis
Just tell a story
“Newsrooms needed social media and mobile editors, but it’s time to move past the part where reporters do one chunk of work and leave the rest to the various experts. That expertise shouldn’t be hoarded by one desk.”
Anjali Mullany
Platforms decide who gets heard
“What does it mean that Trump’s voice can be heard calling for the exclusion of Muslims at our borders, but yours can’t? What could that evolve into? Could it affect elections?”
Caira Conner
Fumbling toward messaging apps
“It will require a willingness of media outlets to experiment, blindly, with content and formats specifically for messenger apps without the clarity of referral data.”
Elite Truong
The year we deal with the comments
“It’s time to start bringing in feedback, context, and community to our sites.”
Cory Haik
Distributed platforms will be your new homepage
“Publishers need a few things for this to be of real value: good analytics, monetization mechanisms, product development partners, and fresh ideas on how to create content that is native to the platforms.”
Amy Webb
Novelty is the new normal
“News organizations, and the communities they serve, must cope with hundreds of first-time situations driven by technology at a pace unmatched in any other time in history.”
Moiz Syed
Designing our way out
“In 2016, design will be a tool for journalists to scope out a widened role in our new digital media landscape.”
Keith Hammonds
Wicked targeted beats
“We see more newsrooms headed this way — picking their spots, investing more resources in coverage of just a few big issues where deep reporting can move the needle.”
Errin Haines
Racism by numbers
“Data is a dispassionate way to dismiss notions of a post-racial society or ugly stereotypes about poverty and crime.”
Cindy Royal
Product management is the new journalism
“In 2016, media organizations and journalism schools will begin to comprehend and define product management and embrace it as a relevant and critical career path. Shouldn’t people in these roles be trained to have the storytelling, ethical, and legal mindset of a media professional?”
Gina Masullo Chen
Journalists, get thee to the comments
“A journalist’s job, at its very essence, is to explain to the public what’s going on. If the public is learning that through comments, journalists must be part of that discussion.”
Swati Sharma
The year of the story
“Keep innovating, keep trying, keep experimenting. But you don’t have to do it all at once, you don’t have to do it every time, and you don’t have to do it alone.”
P. Kim Bui
Come on, feel something
“Is your newsroom ready? Do you know how to deal with emotion, or do you lock it away with the promise of a drink and a few morbid jokes later?”
Fiona Spruill
Notifications that know me
“As anyone with an Apple Watch will tell you, though, it’s all about the notifications, not the apps. The taps on my wrist make it abundantly clear just how dumb most notifications are.”
Nicholas Quah
Podcasting fights the hype
“2016 is going to be the year when the professionalizing podcast industry finds out if it’s able to earn its place in the media big leagues.”
John Clark
Social platforms scale down locally
“These deals will force media companies to think about how they’ll generate revenue in places other than their own site or publication.”
Bill Adair
Pants, burning
“Candidates will ignore a lot of the truth-squadding — except when they can use it to attack their opponents. (Politicians hate fact-checking, except when they love it!)”
Mariano Blejman
Invest in speed
“For years, we’ve known that digital journalism is more than just newspaper articles — it requires new technologies and experiences.”
Juliette De Maeyer
Objectivity, revisited
“If the substance of a thing is made of its relations with other things, a way to show that substance is to prove that these relations resist, that they are recalcitrant.”
Alastair Reid
A new dawn in social newsgathering
“2016 looks to be the year when news organizations begin devoting as much time and resources to the newsgathering side of social media as they do the output.”
Allissa Richardson
Mobile journalism goes virtual
“Telling complex news stories requires all hands on deck, and immersing the reader or viewer in a scene is key.”
Mario García
The year we rethink (or abandon) homepages
“If the homepage has been the traditional ‘front page,’ ushering audiences into a brand and its offerings, now the article is the point of entry.”
Tom Glaisyer
Journalism will find strength in systems
“The future will be about rethinking the systems of journalism so that they build on interlocking strengths.”
Amanda Hale
The year we start to talk about “the business side”
“As an industry, we have done very little to identify, pipeline, and train the publishing talent that will be responsible for securing the financial future of news.”
Kelsey Proud
A turning point for trust
“In 2016, it’s our responsibility to earn it. Demand change of each other and champion organizational and individual growth through transparency, collaboration, community, and connection.”
Basile Simon
Love thy reader, securely
“Mass surveillance, interception, and metadata collection is all around the Internet, and HTTPS is the first step we must take to make our readers feel secure.”
Ole Reißmann
We’ll do it live!
“Now that Facebook has introduced live video for its verified users and pages, we’ll see an explosion of live reporting, talk shows, and all kinds of experiments.”
Burt Herman
Begun, the platform war has
“The coming year will see more companies abandon websites altogether to save costs, pouring all resources into media creation and leaving presentation and distribution entirely to outside platforms.”
David Skok
Distributed content needs local news
“By choosing to prioritize national outlets over local ones, these platforms are going to accelerate the decline of local journalism. In 2016, we should all be aware of the unintended consequences of that choice.”
Masuma Ahuja
Every message is a push notification
“People are accustomed to exchanges on chat, so how do we have two-sided conversations with thousands or hundreds of thousands of users?”
Nathalie Malinarich
The battle to stand out
“Snapchat has unleashed incredible creative forces with Discover and Stories. This short-form storytelling is bound to catch on beyond the world of chat apps.”
Anthony Sessa
One metric to rule them all
“As we figure out the metric we care about, breadth and depth will converge and become one. This metric will be a zen master that instructs and aligns the initiatives of every team.”
Elise Hu
Time to get serious about chat apps
“For users, why worry of a more feudal Internet when you can send amazing stickers to select groups of friends? For publishers, you get a direct connection with an untapped audience, with your updates dinging on their phones.”
Robert Hernandez
The year virtual reality becomes reality
“Role up your sleeves, journo industry, because you need to start preparing to lead the next disruption. When it actually hits is nearly irrelevant, because there’s no doubt it will hit.”
Zizi Papacharissi
The return of the independents
“News becomes a colorless background, wallpaper to our everyday experience, rather than a dynamic, substantial map of the world we live in.”
Jesse Brown
Podcasts own radio
“First solution with a user-interface simplified to on/off wins.”
Alisha Ramos
Brand relevance and revenue in the age of Snapchat
“Surviving and thriving in a distributed platform world in 2016 will be important, but simply view it as an opportunity to extend and grow your brand and your revenue. By viewing it this way, your website won’t necessarily die — it will simply have more platforms leading back to it with readers who really, truly want to be there.”
Dheerja Kaur
Platforms face editorial responsibility
“With great power comes the great responsibility of verifying information, delivering diverse content that keeps users informed, managing coverage at a global and local level, and hiring an editorial staff prepared to make tough decisions.”
Tanya Cordrey
Let users personalize their experience
“User-initiated personalization can no longer be seen as a fringe activity. After all, nobody knows their likes and dislikes more than the users themselves.”
Mizell Stewart III
Local news gets smarter on mobile
“This has been the year many newsrooms (finally!) ditched the Page 1 meeting. Dare I say the coming year will see us lavish as much attention on the small screen as we still do on print Page 1 designs.”