Life After Print

September 24, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized 

As we ponder this week’s lecture and readings, the decline of newspapers, etc, here’s something interesting…

New MMC study says journalists ready for “Life beyond print”

Today’s newspaper journalists have no trouble envisioning a career where news is delivered primarily online and to mobile devices instead of in print, according to a new report by the Media Management Center. In fact, almost half think their newsroom’s transition from print to digital is moving too slowly.

“Life beyond print: Newspaper journalists’ digital appetite”
surveyed almost 3,800 journalists in print, online, or hybrid jobs at 79 U.S. newspapers about their shift from print-only to multimedia responsibilities. It found that many of these journalists are heavily engaged in digital activities in their personal lives and would like to devote more effort to digital products at work. But most of their time in the newsroom is still spent on print responsibilities.

Who in the newsroom is most frustrated? How should leaders assess adaptability? What changes can leaders make in their own behavior that would matter most for their employees? This report offers key insight into these topics and more.

“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.”

Using digital appetite as a guide, Life beyond print assembles profiles of six types of journalists inhabiting the typical newspaper newsroom in 2009. They range from the “Digitals” (12% of the workforce) who spend a majority of their efforts online today, to the “Turn Back the Clock” contingent (6%), who long for the day when print was king. Fully half of newsroom workers wish to do “Moderately More” online, arriving at something closer to an equal split with their print efforts, requiring a doubling of the effort they spend today. Those in the “Major Shift” profile (11%) would devote five times their current effort to online if given their druthers.

“It is time for leaders to act,” said Smith. “They have the data, they have the support. Many things are aligned for the creation of the next generation news companies.”

Researchers also asked how newsroom leaders are faring on a number of important topics. The report offers advice on how managers can address important gaps between how they think they are performing and how staff view their actions. In several key areas money and resources aren’t the factors that matter.

Among the study’s other findings:

Newspaper journalists still love their jobs: Despite industry turmoil, 77% of journalists are somewhat or very satisfied with their current jobs, 67% think it somewhat or very likely they will be in the news business two years from now, and. 59% think they’ll likely be with their same newspaper.

Online desire in the newsroom is not determined by age, years of journalism experience, or proximity to retirement: Youth is not a factor in predicting who in the newsroom wants to move into digital. The top two drivers of digital appetite are heavy use of the Internet outside of work and having knowledge of online audiences and their preferences.

Digital journalists know customers best: It’s not surprising to find that the “Digitals” – the journalists who spend most of their time working online – say that they know a great deal about the habits of online news users. But these “Digitals” also know about as much about the readers of the print edition as print-focused employees. The reverse is not true. Print journalists report much less customer knowledge about online users.


2 Responses to “Life After Print”

  1. What’s next? - Chuck's Q Blog on September 24th, 2009 11:57 pm

    [...] was interested to read Old TV News Guy’s post about the new study “Life Beyond Print,” which surveyed 3,800 journalists in an attempt [...]

  2. Pat Daddona on September 26th, 2009 12:50 am

    Interesting. I must be a rarity because I straddle both worlds, still reading our print edition every day and yet checking out online story comments and blogs later in the day. Good post.

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