Global news tech survey shows journalists not keeping pace with digital revolution, but some bright spots in Latin America

Globally, journalists are not keeping pace with the digital revolution. This is according to a recent survey from The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), “The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms.”

“Despite the gains in embracing technology, journalists are simply not keeping pace with the transformations sweeping the industry,” said Joyce Barnathan, ICFJ president. “This study pinpoints the gaps, helping us understand how to make headway now in everything from newsroom training to digital security.”

Yet, survey results uncovered bright spots in Latin American newsrooms where hybrid news organizations are on the rise and journalists lead the globe in social media usage. However, the ICFJ study also echoed independent findings that most Latin American journalists aren’t doing enough in terms of digital security.

These results and more were presented at the release of the ICFJ report at the Online News Association (ONA) Conference on Oct. 5 in Washington D.C.

It is the “first-ever survey on the adoption of digital technologies in news media worldwide,” according to the organization, which worked with Georgetown University to conduct the study.

Below are the key findings from all surveys collected from around the globe:

  • There is a serious technology gap in newsrooms
  • Digital-only and hybrid newsrooms are on the rise
  • Not enough journalists are using social media verification tools or securing communications
  • Most newsrooms see gaining trust with their audiences as a challenge
  • We need to find new revenue models, faster
  • Newsrooms need to employ analytics data in decision-making
  • Most newsroom employees are young
  • Journalists want training that isn’t being offered by employers

The survey was available in 12 languages, including Spanish, Portuguese and English, and responses were received from 2,053 journalists and 728 newsroom managers from 130 countries.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, 427 journalists (21 percent of all respondents) and 137 newsrooms (19 percent) were surveyed between February and April 2017.

The following countries were included in the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Although the ICFJ will be providing more detailed regional information in the coming months and will present much of it in an interactive format, certain data for Latin America are available.

--- Traditional newsrooms are decreasing globally, and Latin America is no exception. A majority of newsrooms surveyed in the region are what the study refers to as hybrids, meaning they use a combination of traditional and digital formats. The second most common are digital, followed by traditional.

 Results for Latin America from the ICFJ Survey “The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms”

--- In terms of the primary platforms that newsrooms in Latin America use to disseminate information, 42% use websites. Print newspapers are next in line at 26%.

--- Considering other platforms for disseminating news, nearly 100 percent of newsrooms in Latin America use Facebook (more than any other region), 86% use Twitter and 66% use YouTube. For Twitter and YouTube usage, Latin American newsrooms are second only to North America.

--- When it comes to newsroom staff size over the past year, 42% of newsrooms in the region stayed the same, while 32% decreased and 27% increased.

--- In terms of technology, 67% of newsrooms have a tech team, 66% have IT/website management teams, 65% have social media teams, 50% have multimedia teams, 37% have data analytics teams, 14% have UX design teams and 11% have product/app development teams

--- 53% of journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean use Instant Messaging apps, second only to East/Southeast Asia (57%)

--- To engage audiences, 95% of the journalists surveyed in the region use social media, 40% use search engines, 38% use email, 28% use Instant Messaging apps and 25% use digital newsletters.

 Results for Latin America from the ICFJ Survey “The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms”

--- Globally, Latin American newsrooms are behind in digital security, with just 38% of newsrooms taking security measures

--- 57% of Latin American newsrooms identified building users’ trust as a major challenge

--- The top challenges identified by Latin American newsrooms were: shifting revenue streamsattracting loyal audiences, and creating quality content. The survey found that newsrooms in the developing world have the biggest problems with shifting business models and identifying new revenue streams. “More than 70% of organizations in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America/Caribbean” identify it as a major challenge.

However, the study found that, globally, “digital-only newsrooms are twice as likely to generate revenue from alternative sources than traditional or hybrid newsrooms.”

"It was fascinating to see that digital-only media have been better than traditional media about diversifying revenue sources all around the world. It confirms that what we are learning in our work with digital media entrepreneurs in Latin America is part of a global trend,” said Janine Warner, ICFJ Knight Fellow, and co-founder of SembraMedia, a non-profit organization that promotes the development of digital media entrepreneurship in Latin America and Spain.

Consult the ICFJ study or highlights posted to Medium to learn more about how Latin American newsrooms compare to those in other parts of the world.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.