As people go back to the office when the pandemic is calming down, newsrooms are struggling with questions on how to organize media companies’ future work structures. 34% of newsrooms in a new survey say they have already decided on major changes and are moving to implement hybrid working. 57% say they have not yet decided what is best and around 9% say they plan to work as similar as possible to before the pandemic.
Most respondents say their news organisation is doing a good job with gender diversity (78%), but fewer say the same about ethnic diversity (38%) and attracting those from less advantaged backgrounds (37%) or with diverse political views (33%), the Reuters Institute survey shows.
The report, which is based on a survey of 132 senior industry leaders from 42 countries as well as in-depth interviews, makes clear that ‘hybrid working’ will soon be the norm for the vast majority of journalists in many news organisations.
The report says managers worry about issues like ‘proximity bias’, where the voices of those working remotely get ignored whilst those physically in the office and so close to decision makers benefit by being there in person, as well as how to get people physically together and foster team spirit.
“Our findings suggest publishers still struggle to attract and retain technology and data skills which are in great demand elsewhere. In contrast, most respondents remain broadly confident (63%) about keeping newsroom staff.”
Around half of respondents (47%) felt that the pandemic has made recruitment and retention of media staff harder, with less than a fifth (17%) saying that it was easier.
“In the light of the Black Lives Matter movement and greater awareness of historic injustices, ethnic diversity remains the biggest priority for media companies – identified by 35% as the single most important priority in terms of improving newsroom diversity, followed by gender diversity (26%) and greater diversity from less advantaged groups (17%).”
News organisations are pressing ahead with plans to redesign offices, upgrade technology, reduce desk space/office space and renegotiate contracts with employees to accommodate more flexible working. But many worry that the full implications of the hybrid newsroom have not been fully worked through, the report says.
The report is written by Frederica Cherubini, head of leadership development, Nic Newman, senior researcher and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, professor and director of the institute,