WASHINGTON: After more than 18 months working remotely, journalists value in-person sourcing, reporting, editing and newsroom atmosphere more than ever, according to FTI Consulting's FTI Survey: The Future of the Newsroom Post Pandemic.
Almost 65% of journalists interviewed said the reporting process has become more difficult during the pandemic. Surveying 44 reporters, editors and producers anonymously from outlets including Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, FTI gauged how the pandemic affected them and found the lack of personal contact has been the biggest contributing factor to difficulty.
"There's so much discussion about remote work and what is going to be the new normal," said Dan Margolis, FTI MD of corporate reputation, strategic communications. "We wanted to know how this would affect the newsroom because there is a lot of in-person interaction there."
Nearly 85% of media professionals said the inability to meet sources in person is a challenge and 77% cited a lack of in-person contact with colleagues.
"From the client side, I think the C-suites and board members are going to help as much as they can, but they feel more comfortable and confident [talking to] a [journalist] they've met in person," Margolis said.
As workers shift back to working in-office, only 16% of journalists say they will be back in the newsroom every day, compared to 62% before the pandemic. Forty-three percent said they expect to work in-person two or three days a week, and 74% said they expect newsroom schedules to be hybrid.
Journalists will adapt to balancing hybrid work, remote work and the desire to interact with sources in person, Margolis said.
"They will tell their sources and the people they come into contact with the days they're in the office and those will be the days they have lunch," he said. "There will be just another dynamic with scheduling."
What hasn't changed during the pandemic is that the vast majority of journalists (97%) said the role of the media is more important than ever, with 85% strongly agreeing with that sentiment.
Despite that, 72% of journalists said people trust the media less than before the pandemic.
"There's an understanding that it's been a challenge," said James Condon, senior director in FTI’s digital analytics practice. "But there is a movement forward to learn from the struggles and be a better journalist and be the better news."