As I look back at 2017, I won’t say I’ll miss it. There were highs and lows for me personally (I lost a grandmother, but received a new niece). For the newspaper industry, it was also a year full of highs and lows. You just have to look through the pages of E&P from this past year for evidence. Whether we were covering media disruptors, whistleblowers, or the media’s relationship with President Trump, everyday was a new adventure.
Despite the industry’s challenges financially, there were other kind of successes that we should celebrate. Reporters from the New York Times broke the news about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations, resulting in his downfall as a powerful Hollywood producer and igniting a movement that shed light on other cases of assault. The Washington Post exposed an undercover sting operation where a woman was hired by conservative activists to plant a false story that she had a relationship as a teen with Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. Those are just two examples of how newspapers continue to push for the truth—and I hope it’s something every newspaper continues to do moving forward.
If this past year taught us anything, it’s that we have to be ready for anything. So, when you look at 2018, what are you expecting for our industry?
Our Critical Thinking column this month asks that question: “In 2018, what should the new year’s resolutions for the journalism industry include?” For my first editorial this year, I thought I would also chime in. If you have some resolutions for our industry, I would love to hear them. Send me an email at email@example.com, and maybe we can revisit them in December to see what was accomplished (or not).
Slow down and listen. We’ve heard the argument of quality over quantity before, but with news now breaking in 280 characters, journalists have to decipher what is worth spending their time and energy on. This is especially true when it comes to the president’s tweets. A previous Critical Thinking column asked how the media can regain control of the narrative when Trump easily distracts journalists from reporting on important political stories. How many times did news outlets report on his golf outings or when he went on a tirade on Twitter over the “liberal” media? Let’s spend more time on reporting what is newsworthy and accurate.
Think outside the (print) box. As print revenue declines, news organizations continue to experiment with different business strategies. We’re seeing more newspapers take chances on event marketing, digital agencies and ecommerce. A newspaper company is no longer just about a print product. In 2018, look for more newspapers to transform into modern newsrooms, playing many crucial roles within their communities.
Get rid of “fake news.” When ABC News investigative journalist Brian Ross was suspended in December for incorrectly reporting that Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser for Trump, had made contact with Russian officials before the election, it only gave more fuel to those who attack the press. Journalists must remember their role as truth seekers and reliable sources. In this issue, we debut a series of full-page house ads focused on trust: “Stronger the Press, Stronger the People.” How about we focus on that message instead?
Positivity is key. Closures. Buyouts. Layoffs. Consolidations. We will most likely hear those words again this year, but many of those who stay in our industry do so because they love their jobs. They understand the importance of newspapers and the product they put out. WAN-IFRA’s World Press Trends 2017 report revealed that reader revenue now makes up about 30 percent of total digital revenue—people want their news, let’s not lose sight of that.