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Distribution, operations, and reporting key in newsroom transformation

October 28, 2019 | By Rande Price, Research Director—DCN @Randeloo

Traditional news channels are transforming into hybrid newsrooms, combining digital platforms into an integrated business model according to The 2019 State of Technology in Global Newsrooms Report. In fact, half of the newsrooms in six of eight global regions are now hybrid. This research was conducted by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in 149 countries, in 14 languages, and completed by more than 4,100 journalists and news managers.

Some of the ICFJ ‘s key findings include:

Newsrooms mix formats to distribute their content with social media as the dominant platform.

  • Content distribution increased with two-thirds of news organizations distributing content in at least four formats, compared to 40% that did in 2017.
  • In terms of social media tools, Facebook (90%) and Twitter (73%) lead the pack. They are followed by YouTube, which grew to 60% usage from 48% in 2017 and Instagram, now at 48%, which is up from 33% in 2017.
  • Instant messaging apps as content distribution channels have declined in seven out of eight regions over the last two years. Eurasia/former USSR, Europe and North America registered the largest declines, 20 percentage points, 16, and 10, respectively.

Security and new technologies are part of the day-to-day workflow.

  • More than two-thirds of journalists and newsrooms secure their communications while only half did in 2017. In fact, in North American newsrooms, the percentage of those that secure their communications doubled to 82%. The preferred method of security is encrypted messaging apps.
  • One-third of news organizations employ dedicated fact-checkers. In addition, 44% of newsrooms and 37% of journalists said they engage in more fact-checking activities than they did the previous year.
  • More than twice as many journalists use social media verification tools today compared to 2017.

Most news organizations aim to dismantle misinformation and work to build trust.

  • Seventy-five percent of managers worry about the impact of misinformation. However, less than half of journalists believe that it impacts their day-to-day work.
  • Almost half of newsrooms are better at separating news stories from opinion pieces.
  • More than three-quarters (37%) of news managers in North America report building trust as a major challenge, up from 29% two years ago.

Government and politics dominate news coverage.

  • Government and politics dominant news journalism with the exception of news radio. Radio is more likely to cover specialized beats. In fact, 42% of news radio covers education and 43% covers health compared to 27% of websites that cover these topics.
  • While nearly one-third of journalists do some investigative reporting, this group appears to be quite limited with only 12% identifying as investigative reporters.
  • Smaller newsrooms appear to offer a community focus news and are twice as likely to report on local news as larger outlets. Twenty percent of small newsrooms cover local and hyperlocal events, compared to 10% of larger newsrooms (26+ employees).

More women are leading in journalism.

  • Women hold half or more of newsroom management positions in four of the eight regions. On average, one-third of management jobs globally are held by women. However, female leadership varies greatly by region.
  • Leading with women in newsroom management are Eurasia/former USSR at 62%, North America at 56%, Europe at 51%, and Latin America/Caribbean at 49%.
  • Women comprise 56% of newsroom employees in North America and 51% in Europe.
  • On average, women are 40% of the journalists in newsrooms worldwide.
  • Interestingly, more women (25%) compared to men (15%) report not having digital experience at the time they were hired.

This ICFJ study offers insight into the transition of traditional news outlets to hybrid news outlets with digital platforms integrations. It identifies the newsroom journey to improve the quality of news reporting. Newsroom operations must now include the fight against disinformation, the promotion of trusted news brands, the addition of heightened security, and the usage of enhanced data analytics.

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