What trends dominated the news industry for 2017?
One of the notable news industry happenings from 2017 was the prominent realization that traditional methods of reporting on and predicting election outcomes didn’t capture the reigning sentiment across the nation that led to the rise to power of Donald Trump and those with similar ideologies. A slower-burning result of this is that we’re now seeing a resurgence in participation in local elections; for example, a Santa Fe special tax election drew turnout from parts of the city that typically stay away from the polls, and we have five candidates seeking the office of mayor and nine running for four council seats in our March 6 municipal election.
In a broader sense, the news industry is still trying to navigate its place in the digital marketplace, and to reach readers by breaking through the echo chamber of messaging that hits them every day. The cost of paper has again increased, and third parties who have come to drive a large share of news website traffic are continually toying with methods to both throttle and increase the flow.
In 2017, which stories were the most popular among Santa Fe Reporter readers? Which were the least? Do you feel that journalists had a hold on the digital age of news in 2017, or is there room for improvement in the coming year?
First, a caveat: We try to gauge how popular our coverage is by two methods. We look at the percentage of the number of copies of the print edition that are left on the stand at the end of the week, and we also analyze the online traffic. Sometimes the same stories show success in both venues. Sometimes stories only run online and don’t see the print issue.
Our five most read stories online were:
- A Day Without Immigrants (A running list of Santa Fe businesses that closed or stayed open and made statements about this day of action)
- SFR Writer Indicted Following Inauguration Protest Coverage
- Joking Around (an interview with a now-former Carlsbad city councilor who made disparaging remarks about women)
- To Protect and Troll (an interview with the now-former Santa Fe city police union head who didn’t see any problem with posting racist, sexist and violent messages on his Facebook page)
- SFUAD SNAFU (the planned sale of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design to an international company is scrapped and the school officially says it will close)
Our most successful print editions had on their covers:
- Best of Santa Fe 2017 (our annual issue featuring the results of a reader poll in more than 100 categories)
- A Century of Art (about the reopening of the New Mexico Museum of Art and its centennial celebration)
- Predator Politics (a deep dive on the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program)
- DIY and Delivery (our evaluation of home cooking meal prep services)
- Father Figures (a look at the Catholic priest sex crimes and their enduring consequences in New Mexico)
Santa Fe Reporter switched to a new content management system this year to ensure that our archives and new stories are easy to navigate and competitive in the digital age, but there’s always room for improvement.
A growing challenge for journalism as a whole is combatting the rapid spread of information on social media, especially if someone is posting false information. How can reporters get ahead of social media?
Reporters use social media increasingly as a way to reach sources and learn about happenings in the community. I don’t think there’s much point in trying to “get ahead” of it. We want to be an active part of it. Posting our vetted journalism is one way to combat false information. Right now, at least a third of our daily web traffic comes from readers who find us through social media.
What is one prediction you have for journalism in 2018?
I predict journalists will continue to be some of the hardest-working people around. Despite what the president says about us being “the enemy of the American people,” everyone on our team cares deeply about truthful and thought-provoking communication. And our local community supports us with advertising, both because they agree with those goals and because they know we have a loyal audience.
We've also helped launch a nonprofit partner nmjournalism.org to allow for the community's philanthropic support of journalism and to apply to grant-making institutions.