A big part of what we’re trying to do at Semafor is to be transparent with the limits of our knowledge. We try to parse through the facts that we know and what we just think we know, which occasionally isn’t as much as we’d like.
In this spirit, as the year comes to a close, we wanted to ask some of the most interesting Semafor Media readers to look back on their own bold, totally wrong predictions for 2023. We asked people like Barry Diller, Mark Cuban, Richard Pleppler, Sunny Hostin, Radhika Jones, Janice Min, Ben Shapiro, and many more about what narratives went sideways, and which assumptions they had that just didn’t pan out.
The responses we got back were as varied as the stories that dominated news in 2024: Some, people like Televisa anchor Enrique Acevedo, were reflective on personal shortcomings that led to failures in their newsgathering. Others, given the opportunity, shared what they thought we in the news media got wrong; no one was quicker to respond to my inquiry than Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director who said journalists’ incorrect, needlessly pessimistic economic forecasts warranted some reflection on future coverage. Despite our best efforts, Ben Smith and I also struck out a few times: almost immediately after declaring Twitter’s push into political advertising to be a bust, Democrats surprised me with their willingness to spend money on Elon Musk’s platform.
With a presidential election, two horrifying wars, and massive, ongoing technological upheaval, the stakes for being wrong in 2024 are as high as ever.