Curating the Nieman Lab’s 2014 predictions

The Nieman Journalism Lab does us a favor every year by compiling predictions for the coming year from some of the smartest people in the business. Every news person should read them, think about them, talk about them and put some of them into action. Because I know you’re busy, I’ve read them all and picked the 10 that I find the most valuable. It’s a personal list — some of them are old ideas that need to be repeated because people still haven’t grasped them and others are new and delightful to me.

Thanks to Joshua Benton and friends at the Lab. Read all the entries because I left some good ones out. Here is my list in no special order:

Jenna Wortham, “The future of news is Sasha Fierce” — But given the glut of content vying for people’s attention each day, especially in music, it’s interesting to observe the delight and excitement around such an immersive and fresh experience. Her fans weren’t barraged by a series of advertisement and reminders about her coming album for months. They were thrilled by the surprise and can’t get enough of it.

Felix Salmon, “The veracity of viral” — 2014 is going to be the year of a big debate about what news is — and especially about whether and how news organizations can ethically report on activity in the virtual world.

Juan Antonio Giner, “Day-old news won’t cut it in print any more” — But that model has crashed. It’s dead and doesn’t work anymore. “Yesterday’s newspapers” are worthless. Our readers today get almost all their news in real time: news, opinions, and yes, instant analysis. So they don’t need us anymore — unless we are able to produce a 100 percent different, compact, and compelling new print product.

Ed O’Keefe, “Mobile, social, video” — Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, and Snapchat (srsly) are news mediums — because that’s where the audience is. The mobile + social generation doesn’t need to find the news; the news finds them.

Katie Zhu, “Moving responsive design beyond screen size” In 2014, newsrooms are going to reframe our understanding of “responsive design.” We’re going to see content move beyond simply responding to screen size and instead respond to reader context, adapting to behavior.

Staci Kramer, “Connecting the dots” — In 2014, connecting the information dots:…means more single-topic or immersive niche coverage. At the same time, it also means not ignoring the need for some of that news and information to move outside the niche to the general news flow.

Alfred Hermida, “The year we get smart about social media” — In 2014, expect journalists to be more careful about sourcing information from such discussion boards. Going forward, journalists are learning that rather than dismissing the chatter on social media, there is more value in engaging with it and seeking to channel the conversation unfolding online.

Lauren Rabaino, “The year we contextualize the news” — We publish articles on a 24-hour news cycle and expect readers to figure out how to connect the dots on their own. We use one sentence near the top of a story to rehash concepts we may have covered at length in previous articles. Rarely do readers follow a story from the beginning — but when they jump in at the middle, we don’t help guide them through what they’ve missed. And we essentially write new content that we then throw away at the end of the day. 

Adrienne LaFrance, “The rise of the fluid beat” — A good place to start if you’re not sure which camp you’re in: “What does my newsroom do better than any other newsroom?”

Pablo Boczkowski, “Paying more attention to the public” In sum, the year ahead might bring news organizations that will pay more attention to the public. While that might be good for their bottom lines, it might also be bad for the quality of our democratic life.

2 thoughts on “Curating the Nieman Lab’s 2014 predictions

  1. My biggest disagreement is about day-old news. I think the rise in “longform” journalism online shows that people have had their fill of daily blather and are yearning for actual context and reporting that shows the story beyond the Twitter headlines.

  2. I particularly like Katie Zhu’s — it’s intuitive, and the real-world benefits are obvious.

    Unfortunately, a number of these share a theme: They involve doing more. And we already know that 1) you can’t really do more with less, and 2) most media companies refuse to do more with more. So God bless Nieman, but what should happen and what will happen are often two distinct countries without a common language.

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