Skepticism and narcissism

“We all know the old journalism saw: ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’ Our moms aren’t the problem. No, if 2016 and 2017 have taught us anything, it’s that our passion for journalism’s flattering mythology only hurts us.”

2018 is the year when our skepticism has to be stronger than our narcissism.

You remember Narcissus, right? The hot young Greek who fell so passionately in love with his reflection that he wasted away and died? All that remains of Narcissus is his namesake flower — something strictly ornamental and meant to be cut down.

We all know the old journalism saw: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Our moms aren’t the problem. No, if 2016 and 2017 have taught us anything, it’s that our passion for journalism’s flattering mythology only hurts us.

And yes, we realize that it’s hard to think about self-deception, particularly this year — when the president and his press secretaries have and continued to castigate the press in a campaign .

But that doesn’t excuse us from the work; we can’t demand an honest accounting of anyone else before we give journalism the same examination.

Here are some of the places we expect change:

Myth 1: We respect audiences. “The for the people we’re meant to be serving,” wrote Jenn Brandel and Andrew Haeg in 2016. Journalists are privileged Americans ( have college degrees, but , and as Joshua Benton reported in 2016, an outsized share of digital journalism jobs are concentrated in a few big metro areas).

Heather Bryant’s was brutally honest:

When we look at what is published, what do we see?

Headlines that talk about the effects of policies on “the poor.” As someone who grew up intensely poor, that is not what we called ourselves. And most don’t. Who is that headline for?

We see stories that lump various groups into monolithic blocks like gun-owners, farmers, working-class and play to stereotypes.

And we’ve all experienced the culture, maybe even perpetuated it ourselves, where audiences are talked down to and about, commenters are called idiots and journalists don’t hesitate to tweet 140 character think pieces about how people don’t care about “real” news anymore.

If we’re going to be faithful to the duty of our profession, when economic inequality is greater than ever and issues of race, gender and politics are at the front of everyone’s mind, we have to do better.

Nick Quah also points out that we can be pretty rude when writing about the youngs, which has got to change. And ProPublica’s Ariana Tobin predicts that exhausted news consumers will begin checking out in 2018 because journalists haven’t respected their time, either.

Myth 2: Our hiring and pay scales reward quality. Sometimes, “quality” is just shorthand for “what we already know we like.” That lazy lie turns into shorthand — we , or from journalism “power schools” without examining what they’re actually teaching in these disrupted days. We do it because it makes life easy, but , knowledge bases, and fluencies we need.

Myth 3: Journalism is such a great job that we don’t need work-life balance. Journalism (in big markets and small) still depends on people who will work at unpaid internships or who will pour off-the-clock hours into their jobs — and we burn them out. The ones who survive their early careers to make it to parenthood are adversely affected by the unnecessary inflexibility of the work (as are people who live outside of major metro areas, where .)

Myth 4: He’s a “good guy.” Maybe he’s not a good guy. Maybe he’s just a lucrative guy or a powerful guy. Maybe we shouldn’t protect the crude, vulgar, grabby, toxic, or violent in our own ranks if we want any credibility to address those problems elsewhere.

Myth 5: The stories that matter are the stories that matter to us. If you go by the media’s coverage of #metoo, you’d think that the people most at risk of sexual harassment and assault in America are actresses and journalists, mostly white. Once again, we’re being lazy — when NPR did a content audit of its magazine shows a few years ago, they discovered that the for stories worked in government, entertainment, media, and academia. Let’s not be surprised that our #metoo coverage has focused on celebrities in precisely those arenas. Again.

Myth 6: We want our newsrooms to be diverse at every level of the newsroom (and not just entry-level jobs.) Why does diversity often stop at the masthead? The masthead doesn’t want to leave their jobs. If we want diverse newsrooms, people currently in power are going to have to willingly accelerate the pace of their own obsolescence. There’s not an ever-expanding slate of top gigs. Someone’s going to have to go.

Myth 7: We can be trusted with user privacy. We ask readers to trust us, and we install — and install third-party applications that collect data and we don’t think about how that data can be sold or breached () or resold or bundled and then sold. We ask readers to trust us, but . And we rely on social platforms for distribution (maybe not for long, Neha Gandhi predicts), but (and neither do they).

Myth 8: We’re objective! Objectivity is only objective and neutrality is only neutral — that’s going to look like white people, and men, and Ivy League and traditionally credentialed people. Not those “whose very livelihoods and safety are matters of public debate,” as Lewis Wallace . Let’s be real skeptics — especially toward the systems that benefit we who already have megaphones and a little power. And let’s trust and support about how power structures affect their communities.

Myth 9: We definitely don’t think of community journalism as the minor leagues. This isn’t true everywhere — there are lots of partners and particularly funders who are focused on this space — but a great deal of money tends to stop at the ivory towers that work on the problem of community journalism, or in the production of endless toolkits and white papers and parachuting reporting fellowships. If we care about community journalism, we should pay community journalists in a way that makes it possible to live, work, and stay in their communities. Let’s actively reach out to support their applications and access to the grants, fellowships, and prizes that pour down on the major market news orgs. (Do you know how hard it is for a community journalist to find out about these opportunities? Or to make time and have the money to apply during contest season? If you worked in a small-market newsroom, you probably do. Otherwise, you can’t even imagine both how hard it is, and how much it means.)

Myth 10: We can’t be replaced. Investigative journalism seems safe for now. But those who are doing same-as-it-ever-was stories — and local news — had better or start regarding them as competition. (Quartz’s , though — it doesn’t have to be as scary as you think.)

Myth 11: People who criticize journalism are dangerous to journalism. Look, we are not trying to dismantle journalism; we want to practice it well (in almost the exact way that Juliette De Maeyer outlines in her prediction, actually). We don’t want to put arguments in the hands of people who spout democratic values while spray-painting anarchist symbols over the very idea of verifiable facts; we want to derail those arguments by demonstrating that they’re false.

We think you want that, too. And that’s why we think this prediction really could come true.

and are coauthors of “.”

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Jake Levine   The return to now

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Paul Ford   Go global

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Burt Herman   Things get real

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

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