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Published on August 18th, 2016

There’s no shortage of articles about the challenges facing the journalism industry. To better understand current practices and interest in future research, we fielded a survey of news editors and directors. We gathered a list of approximately 11,000 editors and news directors from Easy Media List and sent several emails and a postcard inviting them to take part in the survey. In exchange, we sent participants an early report of the results tailored to their organization. In total, 525 completed the survey. We note that the resulting data are not representative of the news media at large; rather, the data represent the subset willing to fill out a short survey. The characteristics of those completing the survey can be found in the Methodology section at the close of this report.

We asked those completing the survey whether their newsroom was most focused on a newspaper (58%), radio (13%), television (11%), or web (15%) product. We present our results both overall and by medium. Several findings stand out:

  • Newspaper-focused newsrooms are comparatively less likely to use research and development strategies (i.e., monitor digital metrics, partner with researchers and use A/B testing) than television and website-focused organizations.
  • Television-focused organizations are more likely to have a mobile-friendly website than newspaper-focused newsrooms.
  • Although it’s common for newsrooms to respond to their audience in the comment sections on Facebook or Twitter, less than a third have a written policy about how to moderate comment sections.
  • 91% of newspaper-focused and 95% of television-focused newsrooms ask audiences to submit pictures or videos.
  • Television-focused (67%) and website-focused (51%) newsrooms are more likely to employ individuals to promote audience engagement than newspaper-focused (32%) organizations.
  • Incentivizing or rewarding performance based on metrics is rare; only 5% of newspaper-focused and 6% of radio-focused organizations do so.
  • Most organizations self-grade their overall news coverage as a B.
  • 78% of respondents say their newsrooms prioritize providing information about important public matters over profit, rather than the other way around.
  • Newsrooms are most interested in learning more about engaging audiences and least interested in designing mobile apps.
  • When asked about the most important problems facing journalism today, the most common responses were financial sustainability (e.g., monetizing content, generating revenue, etc., mentioned by 29% of respondents) and a lack of credibility and quality (e.g., bias reporting, loss of integrity, poor quality content etc., mentioned by 29% of respondents)

 

Researchers

  • Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

    Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud
    Director
    tstroud@austin.utexas.edu

    Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is the founding and current Director of the Center for Media Engagement and Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book, Niche News: The Politics of News Choice, received the Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association, and inspired the early development of the Center. Her research examines the use and effects of political news content.

  • Alexis Alizor

    Alexis Alizor
    Research Assistant

    Alexis Alizor (MA, University of California Davis) received her master’s in Sociology with an emphasis in virtual methodologies, gender, and identity. Particularly, her graduate research project focused on using virtual ethnography to understand how gender race and identity play out in online communities. She is also interested in civic and community engagement in online spaces. Prior to working with the Center for Media Engagement, she worked as an assistant instructor at the University of California Davis and as a market research associate.

  • Cameron Lang

    Cameron Lang
    Undergraduate Research Assistant

    Cameron Lang was an undergraduate research assistant at CME. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism, as well as certificates in business and public policy. She previously interned with Community Impact newspaper and Project Vote Smart. She is now a law student at Drexel University.