Newsrooms Using Digital Tools to Fight Misinformation, Survey Finds

Newsrooms Using Digital Tools to Fight Misinformation, Survey Finds

Newsrooms around the world are turning to digital tools to counter the spread of misinformation and attacks on journalists, a report from the International Center for Journalists finds.

Based on a survey of more than forty-one hundred newsroom managers and journalists from a hundred and forty-nine countries, the report, The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms 2019 (94 pages, PDF), found that a growing number of news organizations and reporters are using digital technology to secure their communications and fact check information. Approximately two-thirds of journalists (67 percent) and newsrooms (68 percent) currently use cybersecurity technology — secure messaging services but also VPNs and encryption technologies — up from 46 percent and 47 percent in 2017.

Funded by the Google News Initiative and Fusion, the report also found that the fact-checking and verification tools most commonly used by news organizations and journalists are those such as Google Fact Check Tools and Facebook Fact Checker that help with the identification of trusted news sources, followed by reverse image search and fact-checking websites such as Factcheck.org and Politifact. In addition, the share of reporters who regularly use platforms such as Storyful and Dataminr has more than doubled over the last two years, to 25 percent. According to the survey, 44 percent of newsrooms and 37 percent of journalists have increased their fact-checking activities over the past year, while a third of newsrooms have dedicated fact-checkers on staff. To help increase audience trust, newsroom managers and reporters say they also are focusing more on public-interest stories and less on "clickbait," citing more sources, and clearly separating news from opinion.

At the same time, the survey found that 73 percent of newsroom managers cite changing revenue models or the need to develop new revenue streams as a major challenge; that those in North America (39 percent) and sub-Saharan Africa (27 percent) are least likely to cite audience trust as a concern; that advertising is no longer the largest revenue source for a majority (54 percent) of newsrooms; and that women hold half or more of newsroom management positions in four of the eight regions surveyed.

"There is a major shift afoot as news outlets come under attack digitally and physically," said ICFJ president Joyce Barnathan.

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"ICFJ Survey: Journalists Worldwide are Embracing Technology to Tackle Daunting Challenges." International Center for Journalists Press Release 10/15/2019. "The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms 2019." International Center for Journalists Report 10/15/2019.