Journalists Survey Lets SPJ Know It’s On the Right Track

The Society of Professional Journalists gave the Reuters Institute access to its members for a survey on the future of journalism. The results, while not surprising, let SPJ know that it had its finger well-placed on the pulse of an industry.

News flash: Journalists don’t have a very rosy outlook on the future of their industry or their place in it. That’s according to more than 500 members of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) who were surveyed for the Reuters Institute’s ongoing project on the future of journalistic work.

The industry is in a constant state of change, people are being required to do more, work in multiple platforms, create their own identity.

According to the survey, more than 75 percent of journalists believe they’ll be asked to produce more stories and that they’ll never be off the clock. Another 70 percent said their work will be more stressful than other white-collar professionals in the future, and 86 percent agreed strongly with the statement that they “will have to engage in personal branding … to succeed professionally.”

Simply put, journalists believe their job will become increasingly difficult and that they’ll have less support from their employer along the way.

“This was nothing earthshattering for us,” SPJ Executive Director Joe Skeel said in an interview with Associations Now. “The industry is in a constant state of change, people are being required to do more, work in multiple platforms, create their own identity. But what was comforting to me from this survey is that, despite all of the challenges that come with it, people still find it to be incredibly gratifying—journalism’s very much a cause-driven profession.”

Seventy percent of respondents at least somewhat agreed that journalism would be professionally more satisfying in the future.

Because the results worked to validate perceptions that SPJ was already aware of, Skeel said no major changes would come about in the way the organization operates or in the benefits it offers to members. SPJ, alongside the industry it represents, has had to evolve over time.

“Our goal is pretty much the same when it comes to helping members, and that is to provide training and resources that help them do better journalism,” he said. “As new skills are required of journalists, we view our role as being somebody who trains them in those skills and provide resources that they need.”

SPJ has also implemented new member benefits in recent years, like access to free insurance quotes and retirement advice—resources that freelancers, which there are more and more of, might not otherwise have access to.

Skeel credits SPJ’s ability to adapt to its efforts to listen to members.

“It’s good for any association to know what their members are thinking and what the people in that industry are thinking,” he said. “For the successful associations, research like the Reuters survey for us, does indeed codify what they already know and suspect, and lets them know that they’re on the right track.”

Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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