There is so much going on in the world of news media these days. From innovations in the business models that sustain it to attempts to harness the technologies that distribute it to evolutions in defining what “it” even is, or isn’t, there were lots of candidates for this list. But here are five trends that we think matter, in a world where news and information play such a vital role in fueling social change.
Kickstarting the News
Issue-specific content, fueled via crowd-sourced funding continued to make gains this year, proving the willingness of people to pay for good content. Civil Eats (Food Policy News & Commentary with Bite) successfully raised $100K to shift from an all-volunteer effort to a professional enterprise. And the Vancouver Observer’s Tar Sands Reporting Project is well on its way to raising $32K “to create one year of stories about the people, places and conflicts associated with Canada’s tar sands that go deeper than daily journalism.” We love this trend.
In October, the LA Times declared that they will not publish letters to the editor claiming climate change is a hoax. In December, Reddit’s science forum followed suit, asking “So if a half-dozen volunteers can keep a page with more than 4 million users from being a microphone for the antiscientific, is it too much to ask for newspapers to police their own editorial pages as proficiently?” Our friends at Grist break down how nine major papers deal with the issue.
Infusion of Cash & Ideas
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos spent $250 million to buy the Washington Post. eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is investing a similar amount to back a new investigative news enterprise led by Glen Greenwald, the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden NSA surveillance story. Read more in this great piece by NY Times Media Equation columnist David Carr.
Nonprofit News Nabs Pulitzer
InsideClimate News followed in the steps of ProPublica and Huffington Post to become the third, and smallest, web-based news organization to win a Pulitzer for national reporting, beating out the Washington Post and Boston Globe in the final round. The New York Times media desk puts the accomplishment in perspective, and context.
Humans Still Make the News
With perhaps some exceptions at Fox News and Narrative Science, a Chicago-based company working on algorithms to write news stories, the heart and soul of journalism are still the hardworking reporters and editors that do all the work. Our notions of who qualifies as a journalist continue to expand and bend in a digital age, but the human traits that drive quality persist on any platform: curiosity, stubbornness, creativity, compassion, integrity, instincts, and the list goes on. Nowhere is that human-ness more on display than when people fail, learn and move on. Take Newsweek, they announced a switch to a digital only format just over a year ago, and now they are heading back to print. Or Patch, AOL’s heavy investment in local online news finally folding its tent, or Washington Post’s picks for the Worst Media Screw Ups of 2013.
Let us know what trends you are paying attention to, and check back in ’14 for more!