Journalists to leadership: Get moving!
How fast is your publication embracing digital? Seems that many would answer, “Not fast enough.”
A recent survey conducted by Northwestern’s Media Management Center concludes that “most journalists are eager to compete in a digital world and almost half [43%] say their newsroom’s transition from print to digital is moving too slowly.”
The report, titled “Life beyond print: Newspaper journalists’ digital appetite,” was based on a survey of nearly 3,800 journalists across 79 newsrooms. These folks are still deeply embedded in print: More than half of the respondents said that 80% or more of their work is dedicated to print products. When asked how they would prefer their duties to be split, nearly two-thirds (64.4%) said they want to spend at least half of their time on the digital side.
Of course, the holdouts remain: 14 percent of the respondents said they preferred the status quo, while another 6 percent “yearn for the good old days.” The Northwestern report dubs this latter group the Turn Back the Clock segment. I call them dinosaurs.
Unfortunately, in my experience all print staffers tend to get grouped into the Luddite category, no matter how progressive their thinking or their openness to change. It’s easy for digital editors and publishers – particularly if they’ve come from outside the organization – to conclude the print staff “doesn’t get it” regarding online. The Northwestern survey indicates the publishing digerati may be overstating the resistance.
Part of the problem is a lack of proper training. According to the report:
More than half of the journalists working primarily in print had no training in the previous year to equip them for a digital transition. One in four journalists reports having had no training at all. Those working in digital jobs fared somewhat better, with 54 percent reporting six hours or more of digital training.
How can journalists be expected to make a smooth transition from print to digital when the organization is not supporting their efforts? No wonder the woe-is-me attitude is so prevalent in our industry. Every publishing executive should be looking for ways to break this mindset – and bring along the frustrated masses who are willing to embrace change but don’t have the means to do so.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics
While researching this post, I found a second survey that I thought was relevant to the discussion. The MediaWeek headline – “Print Media Slow in Migrating Online” – certainly made me think it was related, as did the title of the report itself: “The Future of Media.”
Not so fast. The survey, conducted by Forrester for digital marketing agency Zeta Interactive, was more about how marketers are making the print-to-digital transition with their corporate communications, direct mail, catalogs and other marketing collateral. Only 16% of the 150 respondents were from the publishing industry – that’s 24 by my count. I want 20 minutes of my life back.