Survey finds editors ‘positive’ about newspapers’ future

The ‘Newsroom Barometer’, a new global survey conducted for the Paris-based World Editors Forum and Reuters, has found that the vast majority of newspaper editors worldwide are optimistic about the future of their newspapers.

Released on 27 March 2007, the survey by Zogby International found that: 

  • 40% of editors believe that online will be the most common way to read the news ten years from now; 
  • 35% believe that the print format will reign supreme; 
  • two-thirds believe that opinion and analysis pages will grow in importance; 
  • half are convinced that the quality of journalism will improve, and; 
  • half believe that shareholders and advertisers present a threat to editorial independence. 

The survey of 435 editors-in-chief, deputy editors and other senior news executives from around the world, around half of whom are from Europe, demonstrates an industry in transition, but one that is rapidly adapting to the new media environment. 

An overwhelming number of respondents – 85% – said that they were very optimistic or somewhat optimistic about the future of their newspaper. Even among newspapers whose circulation decreased over the past five years, 80% of respondents remained optimistic. 

Meanwhile, eight out of ten respondents saw online and new media as “a welcome addition”. 

Those with high volume web traffic – more than 200,000 unique visitors per day – are more likely to view new media positively, but the majority of editors at newspapers with modest traffic or no web sites also viewed new media positively.  

“Eighty-five percent of senior news executives see a rosy future for their newspaper, and it’s quite a surprise,” said Bertrand Pecquerie, director of the World Editors Forum (WEF), the organisation of the World Association of Newspapers that represents senior newsroom personnel. 

“Editors recognise competition from online sources and free papers, and in turn are making efforts to adapt to 21st century readership,” he added. “They know how to effectively make the transition to online journalism without reducing editorial quality. Editors-in-chief realise that content matters more than ever and cutting newsroom resources is not at all an effective solution: the reshaping of news will take place with journalists, rather than at their expense.” 

This optimism builds on deep changes in the way news is consumed. “Many editors view news as a ‘conversation’ with readers rather than a ‘lecture’ from journalists, and the perceived increase in the importance of analysis and opinion pages shows newspaper editors realize that they must change their content offering in order to survive and prosper,” Villa added. 

The results of the Newsroom Barometer survey were released at a news conference at Reuters headquarters in London on 27 March. The Newsroom Barometer, a partnership between WEF, Zogby and Reuters, will be conducted annually to assess changes in attitudes and strategies in newsrooms around the world. 

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