Journalists share their predictions for journalism in a Nieman lab series


Sarah Marshall: social media editor for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for The Wall Street Journal.

“News sites will find new ways to use social media to surface stories from the archives and extend the lifecycle of content. Visual content will continue to do well on social. News organizations will invest increasing amounts of time and creativity in posting videos, images, and interactives directly to social platforms.”


Jim Schachter: vice president of news at WNYC in New York, former editor at The New York Times

“News reports and stories increasingly will be produced and packaged in forms divorced from the formats dictated by a radio clock. Audiences want to hear news stories and talk-show segments as standalone reports: in our app or some other audio app, directly in their Twitter feed, in playlists of their own creation or playlists generated by an algorithm that takes into account their listening habits.”

Dan Gillmor teaches digital media literacy at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Dan Gillmor: teaches digital media literacy at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Journalists should be inspired by the Snowden effect. They should focus more on critical mass — how to achieve it and how to sustain it. If journalism is to matter, we can’t just raise big topics. We have to spread them, and then sustain them. Moreover, the journalists and organizations have paced themselves in revealing new information every week or two, in a drumbeat that reveals one stunning piece of news after another.”

Etan Horowitz: mobile editor at CNN.

Etan Horowitz: mobile editor at CNN.

“On-demand, personalized, and available seamlessly on any screen. We’ll see this in more personalized mobile alerts. The mobile app alert is perhaps the most intimate of all forms of news delivery, as information is sent directly to your pocket regardless of where you are or what you are doing. Since it is so personal, consumers only want to receive alerts that are relevant to them. We will also likely see news content starting to pop up in wearables like smartwatches and perhaps even smart appliances. When consumers want to watch the latest show from CNN and or read a favorite columnist, they’ll just have to reach for whatever Internet connected device is nearest to them.”


2014 is the year of contextualization


“We’re limiting the opportunity for our readers to understand all the intersecting impacts by reducing context to a few paragraphs of background.” -Lauren Rabaino

According to Lauren Rabaino, Product Manager for The Verge and previously News Applications Editor at The Seattle Times, 2014 will be the year of contextualization.

“My prediction isn’t particularly snazzy. It doesn’t require drones or sensors or wearables. It gets back to common sense, highlighting our role as an industry in creating informed citizens,” said Rabaino.

Contextualization means guiding readers through large, convoluted news topics. Rabaino explains that no matter the topic, we are going to see a shift in how journalists help people understand where information fits and what it means.

Events don’t happen on 24-hour news cycles, and the most important of those events can’t be captured in 2,000-word stories. But that’s how journalists publish, because that’s how newspapers and daily broadcasts are designed. Topics that impact our lives have winding histories, key players over time, topical shifts that are important to understanding the whole story. They don’t really start over every day with a new angle, as we’d force readers to believe. Journalists are limiting the opportunity for readers to understand all the intersecting impacts by reducing that important context into a few paragraphs of background on each new development we write about.

Matt Thompson wrote at Nieman Lab in 2009 about adding context and depth to how we report the news and Sean Blanda (Managing Editor at 99U) discussed the topic last year.

Rabaino believes taking the next step involves:

  • Stop thinking of content as unstructured text with headlines, bylines, ledes, nut grafs, etc. There will be an emphasis of the pieces of information that make up those stories.
  • Create more living content that gets updated at a canonical source as a topic evolves.
  • Start thinking more holistically about stories and writing content in non-narrative formats.
  • Come up with better mechanisms to organize the information that makes up articles.
  • Integrate more structured data into everything we do, blurring the lines between “news apps” and “stories.”

Watch Rabaino’s advice to students: 

A visit with Mark Briggs, author of Journalism 2.0

Mark Briggs is author of Journalism 2.0 and director of digital media for KING 5.

Mark Briggs is author of Journalism 2.0 and director of digital media for KING 5.

Mark Briggs is a traditional turned digital guy. Prior to meeting him I read one of his articles on blogging. One statement in particular stuck out: “Journalists are not bloggers. They’re media companies.”

He explained that bloggers and social media managers are often undervalued. However, blogs establish a journalist’s brand and credibility, they can also open doors to new opportunities. Eventually a blog can transform into a business. If a blog is providing information that people are interested in, it is fulfilling a need. The same goes for a business. To find success, one must make something people want.

Our world is currently experiencing an abundance of information overload. It is no longer difficult to research a topic. Social media is crucial to reach various audiences.

Briggs also mentioned the traditional lecture vs. interactive models of journalism. Although there is an abundance of technology, we must look at the future in a way that’s hopeful. New digital opportunities allow readers and writers to interact. Not only does this allow for more perspectives, it also encourages people to contribute story ideas. The goal is to be different, not necessarily better. Technology will continue to influence journalism but the living and breathing nature of the craft makes it exciting.

The most important skills for journalists that Briggs touched upon are: writing, reporting, designing, coding and doing social media. Students must prepare themselves for jobs that don’t currently exist. Through networking and maintaining honesty and curiosity, people can succeed as entrepreneurial journalists.