Are Journalists Ready for the Digital Revolution?

The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms is the first-ever survey on the adoption of digital technologies in news media worldwide.

The International Center for Journalists, working with Georgetown University, conducted the study in 12 languages, and received more than 2,700 responses from journalists and newsroom managers in 130 countries across 8 regions: Eurasia/former USSR, Europe, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa, North America, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East/Southeast Asia.

As we face a global media landscape rife with uncertainty and excitement, a comprehensive understanding of this new era and what it means for journalists has never been more urgent.

The survey sought to answer a critical question: Are journalists keeping pace with the digital revolution? Despite great strides in leveraging new technologies, the study concludes that the answer is no.

Key Trends the Study Identified: 

NEWSROOMS STILL FACE A DEEP TECHNOLOGY GAP.

Technologists remain sparse in newsrooms. Just 5% of newsroom staff have technology-related degrees, and 2% of newsrooms employ technologists. Only 1% employ analytics editors.

Managers are more skilled in digital media than their employees. Sixty-four percent of newsroom leaders were hired with a background in digital media, compared with 45% of journalists.

Most newsrooms are not redefining roles for the digital era. Eightytwo percent of newsroom jobs remain in established roles (reporters, editors, editorial writers). About 18% are new digital roles (social media editor, digital content producer, analytics editor).

Journalists use a limited range of digital skills. Of the 23 digital skills we surveyed, most newsrooms primarily use four: posting/commenting on social media (72%), taking digital photos (61%), engaging audiences on social media (58%), and distributing content across multiple platforms (56%).

DIGITAL JOURNALISM HAS MADE SOME SUBSTANTIAL GAINS.

Digital-only and hybrid newsrooms are outpacing traditional ones in seven of the eight regions surveyed. The leader in digital is Eurasia/former USSR, with the highest percentage of digital-only newsrooms (55%) compared to anywhere else in the world.

The laggard in digital is South Asia, the only region where legacy media remain dominant. Nearly half of all outlets (43%) are traditional newsrooms.

IN AN ERA WHEN FAKE NEWS AND HACKING HAVE PROLIFERATED, TOO FEW JOURNALISTS ARE TAKING THE PROPER PRECAUTIONS.

Only 11% of journalists use social media verification tools, though most (71%) use social media to find new story ideas.

More than half of journalists (54%) and newsrooms (52%) fail to secure their communications.

WHILE MOST NEWSROOMS FIND IT CHALLENGING TO GAIN TRUST WITH THEIR AUDIENCES, THERE ARE TWO MAJOR EXCEPTIONS.

A mere 21% in Eurasia/former USSR identify building trust as a major concern.

Surprisingly, just 29% of North American newsrooms say trust is a pressing issue, bucking the global trend.

NEW REVENUE MODELS ARE EMERGING, BUT NOT FAST ENOUGH.

The most important revenue generator, after advertising (70%), is sponsored content (44%).

Digital-only organizations are twice as likely to generate revenue from alternative sources (philanthropic contributions and individual donations) as traditional or hybrid newsrooms.

Newsrooms in developing countries report greater urgency to create new revenue streams. About 70% of newsrooms in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Middle East/North Africa identify this as a major challenge compared with 44% of North American ones.

NEWSROOMS HAVE YET TO FULLY EMBRACE ANALYTICS DATA TO MAKE DECISIONS.

Less than half of newsrooms (45%) consult analytics daily.

Newsrooms primarily use analytics data to drive traffic to their websites.

Pageviews is the metric that gets the most attention from newsrooms (73%). Much less attention is given to engagement metrics: social shares (46%), conversion rate (18%), and scroll depth (16%).

JOURNALISM IS A YOUNG PERSON’S PROFESSION.

The largest number of employees in digital newsrooms range in age from 25 to 29 and between 30 and 35 for hybrid and traditional newsrooms.

THE DIGITAL TRAINING JOURNALISTS WANT IS NOT WHAT THEIR NEWSROOMS THINK THEY NEED.

Journalists (52%) want data journalism training, but only 40% of newsrooms offer it.

46% of newsrooms provide training in social media research and verification, while only 22% of journalists identify it as helpful.

Only 9% of journalists identified collaboration across newsroom departments as a priority, but 28% of newsrooms offer training in it.

Download the report The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms

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