Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

“The winners will be the ones who have built a meaningful journalistic report that transcends, and likely capitalizes on, the platform moment.”

I have a emblazoned with the phrase, “Suffering from realness.” The quote, if you didn’t already know, is from rapper and noted footwear purveyor Kanye West. His prose likely had nothing at all to do with the state of journalism,1 but that’s exactly why I had it airbrushed. I, along with two other of my , co-opted Kanye to make cryptically public the commitment to powering through the tumultuous publishing seas for something worthy.

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Pivoting to video, forsaking O&O for distributed, hiring growth hackers, pursuing OTT, new ad products, subscriptions, live, visual — you name it. None of these things are inherently bad — all mere tactics in our transition. And yet they are villainized, by, well, us. 2018 will be no exception. However, here’s betting that it will also be a moment when the tide turns in favor of thinking about impact — realness — in a new way. The winners will be the ones who have built a meaningful journalistic report that transcends, and likely capitalizes on, the platform moment.

Out of the darkest moments come some of the best. Take the and the speed at which those stories traveled. The entire is impact at a pace and scale previously unimaginable. Yes, our business model is far from settled. But do not think for a moment that this sea change would be possible without platforms that reach 2 billion people. Sure, it comes with a high cost to businesses that once reaped a 60 percent margin. But the impact potential is even greater.

If you are existentially vexed about all of this, the question to ask yourself as it is all happening around you: Are you pivoting to impact? This might sound trite, but I mean it sincerely. Below, a starter “pivot to impact” moral compass!

If you are a journalist: Have you recently revealed something to your audience that they likely didn’t know before that helps them understand the context of our changing world? Important bonus: Did you try to make it reach as many people as possible?

If you work in product: Did you build something that people want, that possibly helps enable the above? (h/t )

If you work on revenue: Are you focusing on how your publication can uniquely serve users or advertisers?

If you are a platform: Have you worked with a publishing partner either on helping to monetize their existing body of work or offered to pay them for their expert services? Have you worked to battle fake news?  

In all seriousness, I am a believer in where we are headed and the good work that’s being done along the way. That’s not to dismiss the challenges and tough calls required to get there. I’ll leave you with a line I often recite to myself and to my teams: If you focus on the story and focus on the user, you will not lose. I am betting on 2018 to value this anew.

is publisher of Mic.

Notes
  1. Honestly I should have reached out for comment, but I feel extremely confident in my stated take that these three words together are entirely unrelated to the journalism industry.

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

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

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

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

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

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

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Burt Herman   Things get real

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

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

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Paul Ford   Go global

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

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

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

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

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

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

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

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

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

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

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

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

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

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

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

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

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

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

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

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

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Jake Levine   The return to now

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

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