Lessons 2016

Poynter Results

  • Innovation


    It's time to stop saying 'old media'

    This year, I visited six newsrooms. Some had low-ceilinged cubicle mazes with coffee-stained carpets and newsprint towers. Some had quote-covered glass meeting spaces and slick, quiet rooms.

    At all of them, I found local legacy newsrooms, or "old media" as they're often called, doing the work of digital journalism. In one case, the print product was an afterthought. In another, it had been rethought. At all of them, I found newsrooms that were both significantly smaller than they'd once been and significantly more digital.

  • Business


    The Gannett-Tronc bidding war showed us why people are still investing in legacy media

    Arguably the biggest newspaper business story of 2016 was Gannett's failed (for now) bid to take over Tronc. What the broken deal says about the industry, however, is more than a little ambiguous.

    For starters, consider that 2016 was a particularly hard year financially, with advertising revenue losses that started bad and got even worse in the fall.  Both Gannett and Tronc are profitable on a cash basis but barely so as earnings are fully stated.

  • Storytelling


    Want to be a good writer? Keep talking.

    I am retiring from The Poynter Institute on New Year’s Eve. As my wife and I watch the ball in Times Square slide down to 2017, our fervent smooch will not just mark a new beginning. It will be the first celebration of almost 40 years well-spent.

    When my retirement was announced — along with the news that I would continue to work on some important projects for Poynter — my friend Jay Rosen generously described me as “a unique figure in American journalism.”

  • Innovation


    There are huge advantages to moving to a smaller city

    In the summer of 2015, I left Washington, D.C. and moved to Carrboro, population 19,582, in the middle of North Carolina. I had never lived in the South before, or in a small town. Most of my life had been spent along the Acela corridor, in Philadelphia and New York and Boston and Hartford, Connecticut.

    I thought we would stay a year, maybe two.

  • Storytelling


    2016 wasn’t the worst of it

    This year.

    I started out as a managing editor of the L.A. Times.

    I end it as a vice president at CNN.

    We lived in Los Feliz, under the hills of Griffith Park and neon signs of donut shops. Now we’re in Jackson Heights, in the shadow of brick buildings and halal butchers and planes headed to LaGuardia.

    After the move, we let our 12-year-old walk to the store alone. In mid-November, a block from our house, someone called my friend a “sand n-----” and said he was “gonna die.” We stopped letting our girl go.

    I’ll remember this year.

  • Storytelling


    We cannot allow the anger in this moment to change who we are

    Eileen Eagar was a single mom, working at a steel mill in Chicago. Feeding her two kids sometimes meant going out on a date, ordering the biggest steak on the menu and bringing the leftovers home.

    When we met her in the fall of 2016, she had married, moved to Arizona and started a career in real estate — the “best darn” realtor in Tucson, her husband wrote in an advertisement for her.

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