The future of newsrooms is multimedia integration and a "pay for information" model, said the editors in the survey 2010 Newsroom Barometer presented by McKinsey & Company partner Eric Hazan at the 17th World Editors Forum today in Hamburg. These days it's clear to editors that "multimedia reshapes the newsroom".
The 2010 Newsroom Barometer questioned 525 senior newspaper editors around the world between April and June. They were more optimistic than expected, Hazan noted, with three-quarters of respondents saying they were very optimistic or somewhat optimistic about the future of their newspapers, a figure virtually unchanged from previous year. However, Hazan added that there is a big divide between the generations of editors.
According to this global survey, editors-in-chief and other senior newsroom personnel foresee a multi-platform publication model, maintaining print, and more payment for news.There was no clear view on what form "pay for information" model would take. Editors from emerging countries favored subscription models and European editors though some form of sponsorship would be the norm. There are some editors (35%) who thought information would continue to be mostly free, and 17% were unsure.
Speaking about the multi-platform publication model, Hazan mentioned that in North America there was the highest number of editors working in a fully integrated multimedia newsroom in 2010: 81% of respondents. In Europe, however, only 38% of those editors who responded reported working in integrated newsrooms. Hazan said that it seemed a time for new, multiskilled journalists to thrive, but many journalists, especially in West Europe, don't see themselves as multimedia actors.
In spite of this, digital media will play an increasingly important role, with a multi-platform model dominating most newsrooms, confirmed the respondents. The editors expect print to provide less than half of total circulation in five year's time, with 55% of readers on average accessing publications through digital media -- computers, mobiles and tablets, said the survey. Social media is an opportunity for newspapers, nearly nine out of 10 respondents, especially editors under 35, replied.
There was an overall consensus that concentration of the editorial team on a limited number of topics and outsourcing of the rest may happen. Opinion and analysis are perceived as more and more important, especially in Europe, the survey found.
The survey asked editors about what they see as the biggest threat to newspapers at the moment. Declining readership among young people was noted by 37% of respondents, and the internet and digital media among 24%. However, there was a considerable discrepancy among older and younger editors. Many older ones, for example, cited declining youth readership. Half of respondants reported cost and staff reductions. In North America, 50% of editors said their newsrooms suffered cost reductions and 80% suffered staff reductions. In Western Europe, half of respondents reports both cost reductions and staff reductions. However 42% of editors in emerging countries said their staff levels increased.
Hazan said that only 16% of digital revenues were produced by the sale of digital content, but newspaper editors expect digital revenues to provide just over half of total revenues by 2020. As Hazan underlined, digital share of revenue is definitely seen as significant: "there is clearly a push for digital revenue."