Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and provides behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.
In 2018, despite having recently published a series of articles On how climate change is challenging the world’s cities that have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prizes, Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, is displeased. .
He wants more than that. He wanted to explore the many intertwined challenges – such as immigration and housing affordability – that urban centers around the world face, and how addressing those issues could foster growth. promote economic and social progress.
So he approached Joseph Kahn, managing editor of The Times, with an offer: I wanted to step back from the news cycle and consider how the challenges facing communities around the world will shape their future. A few years later, that idea became the mission behind Headway, a new initiative by The Times that uses journalism to gauge the progress the world has made toward large-scale and authoritative goals. Ask what that progress means.
“Especially over the past few years, there has been both bad news and the difficulty of breaking out of the 24-hour news cycle,” said Mr Kimmelman, who is now Headway editor. “There’s a craving for another conversation at a different pace.”
In Headway’s first article, published in December, Kimmelman looked at the fight to protect Lower Manhattan from sea level rise through the lens of climate resilience. The article is part of Headway’s debut series, “Reconsideration,” Track forecasts from decades ago to see if goals have been met. Five of the articles in this series include a multiple-choice question that asks readers to rate the world’s progress toward long-term goals, such as controlling the spread of HIV or reducing the amount of HIV. carbon emissions, expected to be achieved by 2021. (The results could inspire future Headway projects.)
Matt Thompson, Headway’s chief editor, said: “I’m amazed at how pessimistic people are. “They answered assuming worst-case scenario.” He said that most readers only answered one-fifth of the questions correctly.
But Mr. Thompson said he was not discouraged by the low correct response rate.
“The whole point is to get people to look past their vision of how they expect the future to play out,” he said.
Two additional Hindsight articles – one about different fortunes of wind and solar power in the United States and elsewhere on urbanization of the megacity of Delhi in India – was published online in January. Accompanying them is a letter from Mr. Thompson invites readers to share their hopes, fears, and expectations for 2022, as a way to inform future Headway reporting projects. This month, the Headway team will begin rolling out longer stories, including one that explores efforts to protect a precious natural resource in Africa whose greatest value to people is depends on its remains in the earth.
Headway’s deputy editor-in-chief, Vera Titunik, said the team of reporters, editors and visual journalists, part of The Times’ special projects team, led by Monica Drake, aims to publish around 10 up to 12 major projects per year. She predicts these will include 5,000-word passages or ambitious visual journalism as well as shorter stories.
Because the initiative receives nonprofit funding from organizations like the Ford Foundation, there is no wall fee for Headway stories, Ms. Titunik said. “It’s the spirit of being open to everyone,” she said.
A key part of the Headway initiative – and still in early development – is a community forum called Public Square. The group plans to create a collaborative space for readers to exchange ideas about solutions to global challenges both online and through debates and in-person events. Headway hopes to host events at high schools, museums and universities across the country once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, Terry Parris Jr., Headway’s Public Square editor, said.
“We want to reach as many people as possible, especially young people,” he said. “We wanted to step back and see how we could bring ourselves directly into communities that might not be interacting with us.”
In the coming years, the Headway team hopes to explore topics such as the inefficiencies of the global waste cycle, the effectiveness of rewinding, efforts to conserve and restore natural resources, and ways innovative ways that cities in the United States have tried to tackle homelessness. . One goal is to produce another set of Hindsight stories later this year, revisiting past hopes and expectations and asking what we can learn from the results.
Ultimately, Mr. Thompson said, the Headway team acknowledges that paying attention to problems doesn’t automatically solve them. But maybe, he says, in the three years the initiative now exists, the group can create a forum to help the world think more consciously about its path.
“One of the most powerful things journalism can do is help people focus their attention over time, not just on what is happening at the moment,” he said. “How will what’s going on now emerge in the decades to come?”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/insider/stepping-back-to-look-ahead.html Look back