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Pivot to journalism

“We need to build and sustain trust in our audiences. And yes, ‘audiences’ not ‘audience,’ because digital news consumers are not monolithic, and neither should be the ways we look at them.”

To see what lies ahead on the road for journalism, all we have to do is look back.

While chasing technology trends and platforms, trying to figure out business models to sustain digital media, many publishers lost sight of something essential: people. The core values of journalism and how they address our audiences’ needs were eclipsed by the chase for clicks and views in the name of growth.

In 2019, we need to double down in the quality of our journalism, regardless of the medium or platform in which we execute it. As it turns out, numbers don’t really mean much in a vacuum, without context, particularly when some platforms have been known to artificially inflate or report them inaccurately. In order to get back on track with our audiences, we need to pivot to the core values of journalism.

Digital audiences have continued to evolve and our publications need to reflect that. Audience interactions with the news are more nuanced and our audiences now have different expectations from us. The Internet is no longer seen as a place where everything is free. Paying for digital services, entertainment, and information has become more common. Whether driven by quality, convenience, a desire to show support, or any of a number of other reasons, there is now a different perception of information’s value, and people are paying for it. When audiences feel we are reflecting and serving them, or providing value to their lives, they’re more likely to support our journalism via memberships, subscriptions, or donations.

As we continue to cover a nonstop news cycle and systematic misinformation efforts, we need to build and sustain trust in our audiences. And yes, “audiences” not “audience,” because digital news consumers are not monolithic, and neither should be the ways we look at them.

As journalists, we need to be thorough and fair in our reporting. We need to seek out diverse points of views and be more inclusive in who speaks in our stories. We need to understand who we’re writing and reporting our stories for and the best ways to tell those stories. We need to know where our audiences are and how to meet them there. We need to bridge our knowledge gaps between the stories we report and the platforms we use to distribute them. We need to have a better understanding of what barriers people have to access our journalism and help them overcome them. We need to listen, ask questions, and apply that same relentless curiosity we put towards getting a story right to understanding the way we work, the audiences we are serving, and how our industry is changing because of them.

is a senior editor for digital transition strategy at The New York Times.

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