The 2019 State of Technology in Global Newsrooms [review]


Journalists around the world are increasingly turning to digital technology to help address daunting challenges such as the spread of misinformation and growing attacks on reporters, according to the International Center for Journalists’ 2019 survey of the State of Technology in Global Newsrooms

This unparalleled survey, conducted in 14 languages, is based on responses from more than 4,100 newsroom managers and journalists from 149 countries. The study updates and expands upon ICFJ’s pioneering 2017 report, which revealed that journalists were struggling at that time to keep pace with the digital revolution.

“There is a major shift afoot as news outlets come under attack digitally and physically,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. The findings show that newsrooms are embracing a range of digital tools to secure their communications and ensure the veracity of their information:

  • More than two-thirds of journalists and newsrooms secure their communications while less than 50% did so two years ago. The percentage of North American newsrooms securing communications has doubled to 82% with Europe the leader at 92%.
  • More than 50% of journalists surveyed say they regularly use digital tools to fact-check information.
  • While only 11% used any kind of social media verification tools in 2017 that number has more than doubled this year. Currently, one-quarter of journalists say they use the tools at least weekly, and more than one-third of news managers report the same. 
  • One-third of news organizations have dedicated fact-checkers on staff. Additionally, 44% of newsrooms and 37% of journalists have engaged in more fact-checking activities over the past year.  

Executive summary

Around the world, journalists are increasingly turning to digital technology to help address daunting challenges such as the spread of misinformation and increasing attacks on reporters, according to ICFJ’s 2019 survey of the State of Technology in Global Newsrooms.

The use of fact-checking and social media verification tools is on the rise, while many newsrooms are securing their communications to protect themselves and their sources. Journalists are also using a multitude of new techniques and platforms to better engage their audiences – and earn their trust.

The survey updates and expands upon ICFJ’s pioneering 2017 study, which determined that journalists were struggling to keep pace with the digital revolution. Our 2019 survey reveals a marked increase in the adoption of digital technology by the media industry over just the past two years.

ICFJ, working with Georgetown University, conducted the study in 14 languages and received more than 4,100 responses from journalists and news managers in 149 countries. The responses are divided into eight regions of the world: East/Southeast Asia, Eurasia/former USSR, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, Middle East/North Africa, North America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The study shows that traditional news outlets are transforming into hybrid newsrooms as they embrace digital platforms. Data journalism is clearly on the rise. And small outlets, most of them digital, now represent a majority of newsrooms.

That said, few new digital start-ups are emerging in seven of the eight global regions. Newsrooms still aren’t investing in enough tech staff or in the appropriate training for their employees.

But they are diversifying their revenue sources. Advertising is no longer the top revenue source for more than half of newsrooms. And while subscription/membership revenues are still low, most news managers expect them to increase at least fivefold in the near future.

On the personnel front, women are playing a much stronger role in the newsroom than ever before. Women account for half of the managerial positions in four regions: Eurasia/former USSR, North America, Europe, and Latin America. That said, on average, women are hired with fewer digital skills than their male counterparts.

As the global news landscape continues its relentless transformation, journalists and their newsrooms are stepping up. Of course, there’s still a ways to go. But if the improvements of the last two years are any indication, the trend is positive, despite the formidable challenges facing the industry.


View the full report, and see highlights from the survey