Journalists globally lag behind advancements in industry technology, new report finds

The first-ever survey on the adoption of digital technologies in news media worldwide has found a significant gap between digital advancement in newsrooms and the employment of staff with core digital competencies. Just five percent of newsroom staff who participated in the survey have technology-related degrees and most newsrooms are not redefining roles for the digital era.

Additionally 46 percent of journalists were hired with no background in digital media. The report reads: “Among those hired with digital experience, most had basic skills, such as publishing across platforms, compared to advanced skills, such as creating digital visualisations.”

The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms survey was conducted by International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology programme. More than 2,700 journalists and newsroom managers from 130 countries participated in the study.

Ms Joyce Barnathan, president of ICFJ, who was quoted on the ICFJ website says, “Despite the gains in embracing technology, journalists are simply not keeping pace with the transformations sweeping the industry.”

The survey found that only four of the 23 digital skills necessary in modern newsrooms are used by most journalists. 72 percent of journalists and newsroom managers said digital skill they most use is posting or commenting on social media, and 61 percent take digital photos. The other commonly used digital skills are engaging audiences on social media and distributing content across multiple platforms. Less than one-third of the newsroom use advanced digital skills like livestreaming, building or adapting digital tools and producing data journalism.

It is notable that while journalists want training in some of these little-used digital skills, newsroom managers are more likely to offer training in areas where they already have competencies like social media research, live tweeting, and the production and distribution of stories across platforms.

The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms also found that like their audiences, most journalists use social media to share and discover news. However only 11 percent of those who participated in the survey use social media verification tools and more than have do not secure their communications.

Additional report findings:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Read the State of Technology in Global Newsrooms survey report here.

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