The past year has been a difficult one for a free and independent press. An unprecedented number of journalists and other media workers have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas. A Wall Street Journal reporter was imprisoned in Vladimir Putin’s Russia on trumped-up charges of espionage. Elon Musk hit bottom (until the next time, of course) by boosting a vile antisemitic conspiracy theory to his 166 million followers on X/Twitter, the social platform he bought and then trashed. Once celebrated digital news outlets like BuzzFeed News and Vice Media hit the wall. And the local news crisis grew worse.

Yet the news media in 2023 were also defined by comedy, absurdity, and even some signs of hope. Gannett, for once, did not make headlines for shutting newspapers and laying off staff. Instead, it endured mockery — and some praise — for hiring reporters to cover Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, and for unleashing artificial intelligence on high school sports with predictably hilarious results. Fox News paid a massive libel settlement and jettisoned mega-star Tucker Carlson while CNN attempted to reinvent itself for the second time in two years. On the bright side, 22 foundations got together to provide $500 million for community journalism over the next five years.

AI was probably the biggest story in journalism in 2023, but in terms of how it might substantively affect how we report and consume news, it’s still bubbling just a bit beneath the surface. That’s likely to change in 2024. In the meantime, here’s a look back at the year that was.

Read the rest at Nieman Reports.

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