When it comes to online news, are you a Digital or a Turn Back the Clock?
Those are two of six types of new journalists Northwestern University’s Media Management Center identified in a recent report, Life beyond print: Newspaper journalists’ digital appetite.
The Northwestern team surveyed 3,800 journalists working at 79 newspapers about their digital habits, “where they want their newsrooms and careers to go, and how well their leaders are doing in managing the tumultuous changes in the news industry.”
Based on their finding, the report placed journalists in one of six groups based on their desire for digital change. While the survey covered only journalists working at newspapers, I’ll wager the categories apply to freelancers as well. They are:
Digitals – Spend a majority of their time online. These are the Web rats who ruled at the recent Online News Association conference, 20somethings who dropped out of j-school to run an online news start up, coding whizzes who win awards for their news-related content management systems, and guys (and girls) who never worked in print in the first place.
Major Shifters – Spend lots of time online outside work and are frustrated they don’t do more online when they are. Think newsrooms need to “get on it and make a more ambitious shift” and would devote heaps more time toward that end if they felt it was worthwhile.
Status Quos – Like the little bear in Goldilocks, find the 30 percent of their time spent producing online news is just right.
Turn Back the Clocks – Long for a return to print. Represented 6 percent of journalists surveyed (good thing, cuz face it, it ain’t nevah coming back)
Moderately Mores – The largest contingent – 50 percent of total surveyed. Would like to double their current digital activities to get to an even split between working online and in print.
Leaders – High-level publishers and editors who typically spend more time focused on print but would like to shift more of their attention to online operations.
While newsroom veterans provide invaluable editorial instinct and experience, young upstarts tend to bring the digital skills and fresh ideas. How can we soundly lead newsrooms in ambitious new ventures with diverse leadership and colleagues?
I’m not certain where I fit into this group. I’m no digital native, but I spend an overwhelming majority of my work day producing articles that will appear only online, online and in print simultaneously or first in print and then online. None of the publications I write for are print only (are any?) Some of the publications I write for have print issues but the work I produce is for their websites. Guess that makes me a Digital Status Quo.
Which new journalist are you?