The notion that editors around the world fear new developments in media
was tested this week with the release of the first Newsroom Barometer
Survey, launched by the World Editors’ Forum (WEF) and Reuters news
agency, writes Thom McLachlan in Business Day.

The study was commissioned in September 2006 to explore the morose question posed on the front page of The Economist — Who killed the newspaper?

“Eighty-five percent of senior news executives see a rosy future for their newspaper, and it’s quite a surprise,” says WEF director Bertrand Pecquerie.

The study shows that overall they accept competition from online sources and free papers, and are also willing to adapt to new readership demands. But there is still evidence of a split in how editors think news will be consumed in the next 10 years.

Four out of 10 of the 435 worldwide news heavyweights believe that online news will take over, while 35% say print will continue to “reign supreme”.

Head of journalism at Wits University Anton Harber says while SA has enjoyed “immunity” from online developments because of limited accessibility, “when it does hit it will be quick and it will be hard”.

“I think the study really reflects the enormous challenges that face journalism. In this country many editors are acutely aware of the changes and are preparing for them, while others act more like ostriches by burying their heads in the sand. Those that believe that print will reign supreme are probably the ostriches,” he says.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.