23 October 2009

Study shows that Journalists want quicker change to digital

Nearly half of all print newspaper journalists think their newsrooms are moving too slowly in the transition into digital news reporting reveals Editor and Publisher.

A study from Northwestern University's Media Management Center (MMC) finds that whilst publishers and sales directors are searching for ways to make digital news pay, newspaper journalists "have no trouble envisioning a career where news is delivered primarily online and to mobile devices instead of in print," according to the study "Life Beyond Print: Newspaper Journalists' Digital Appetite."

Study authors Vickey Williams, Stacy Lynch and Bob LeBailly surveyed almost 3,800 journalists in print, online, or hybrid jobs at 79 U.S. newspapers, asking their attitude towards shifting from print-only to multimedia.

The majority were still working in print, but did not want to continue doing so forever, according to the study. In fact, when dividing participants into six categories, depending on their level of enthusiasm for the transition into digital, just 6% of journalists fell into the category characterized as "Turn Back the Clocks," who wish the digital era would just go away.

"For several years we have heard that it is the journalists' resistance to change that was holding newspapers back," said MMC executive director Michael P. Smith. "What this study shows is that they are ready -- and some are even impatient -- for change."

Fully half of newsroom staffers fell into the category the study called "Moderately More," journalists who would prefer to work as much in digital as they do in print.

Another 12%, dubbed the "Digitals," are already doing most of their work in the digital space, and wish their paper were transitioning quicker from print.
The study also found that it was heavy use of the Internet outside of work and knowledge of online audiences and their preferences that drove digital appetite and it was there were no particular age groups, or levels of experience that distinguished those keen on digital content and those reluctant to change.

Finally, even in the face of job losses and employment uncertainty in the wake of the recession, the survey reports that journalists are surprisingly upbeat.
More than three-quarters, 77%, say they are somewhat or very satisfied with their current jobs, and 67% think it somewhat or very likely they will be in the news business two years from now. Most, 59%, even think they'll be working for their present newspaper.

The full report is available here.

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