With media newsrooms moving at lightning speed around the clock, new research from the International Center for Journalists (ICF) finds editors and reporters around the world increasingly turning to digital technology to help address challenges such as the spread of misinformation and growing attacks on reporters.
This unparalleled survey, conducted in 14 languages, is based on responses from more than 4,100 newsroom managers and journalists from 149 countries. The study updates and expands upon ICFJ’s pioneering 2017 report, which revealed that journalists were struggling at that time to keep pace with the digital revolution.
“There is a major shift afoot as news outlets come under attack digitally and physically,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan, in a news release. The findings show that newsrooms are embracing a range of digital tools to secure their communications and ensure the veracity of their information.
More than two-thirds of journalists and newsrooms secure their communications
Less than 50 percent did so two years ago. The percentage of North American newsrooms securing communications has doubled to 82 percent, with Europe the leader at 92 percent.
More than half of journalists surveyed say they regularly use digital tools to fact-check information
While only 11 percent used any kind of social media verification tools in 2017, that number has more than doubled this year
Currently, one-quarter of journalists say they use the tools at least weekly, and more than one-third of news managers report the same.
One-third of news organizations have dedicated fact-checkers on staff
Additionally, 44 percent of newsrooms and 37 percent of journalists have engaged in more fact-checking activities over the past year.
This study is part of ICFJ’s expanding focus on practical journalism research. ICFJ is uniquely positioned to gain insights on key trends in the industry at a time of rampant disinformation and crackdowns against the media. To lead that effort, ICFJ has hired internationally renowned journalist and media researcher Dr. Julie Posetti for the newly created position of Global Director of Research.
ICFJ’s 2019 survey highlights other important trends:
- Digital-only newsroom growth is flat or down everywhere except in East/Southeast Asia, suggesting that fewer online startups are launching. The biggest decline in digital-only news outlets has been in North America and Eurasia/former USSR.
- Technical experts are still few and far between in newsrooms. Only 4 percent of newsroom staff are tech professionals, up from 2 percent in 2017.
- Newsrooms in North America (39percent) and sub-Saharan Africa (27percent) are the least worried about building audience trust.
- Advertising is not the largest revenue source for a majority (54 percent) of newsrooms, as they diversify their funding sources.
- Women are making significant headway in the newsroom. They hold half or more of newsroom management positions in four of the eight regions we surveyed.
Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology program helped to administer the survey, which was supported by Google News Initiative and Fusion. Results were analyzed across eight regions: Eurasia/former USSR, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, Middle East/North Africa, North America, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East/Southeast Asia.