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July 13, 2016, 10 a.m.
LINK: www.icfj.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   July 13, 2016

The Panama Papers was heralded as a triumph of not just investigative journalism, but one of the clearest indications yet of how indispensable technology has become to the reporting process. Hundreds of journalists all around the world collaborated to bring the project to life — a feat made even more mind boggling by the fact that the process managed to remain a secret despite the number of people involved.

And yet, according to the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), while technology has taken center stage at most news organizations, the industry doesn’t yet have a complete picture of just how far those changes go at most publishers around the world. In an effort to change that, the organization said today that it’s planning the creation of “The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms,” a survey that will take a deep look at how newsrooms across the world are integrating technology into their processes. The survey will be the first of its kind, ICFJ says.

“We thought that given our background and global reach that would be valuable to have look at this to see what the trends are, who is doing what,” said ICFJ president Joyce Barnathan. While journalists in smaller newsrooms around the world will learn a lot from the survey’s findings of developments in the West, the survey will also be designed to give more advanced news organizations a clearer picture of what’s happening elsewhere. “With the way things work today, Western newsrooms will increasingly be looking for partnerships abroad. This will help them identify who is on the cutting edge,” Barnathan said.

Beyond questions of which technologies newsrooms are using, ICFJ also wants to get a better idea of how newsrooms are weaving data into their stories. It’s also particularly interested in how technology is influencing the creation of new roles in newsrooms, how it’s changing newsroom organizational structure, and how tech is changing how news organizations hire new people.

As the survey’s name suggests, the plan is for this to be a global effort. Working with Storyful, ICFJ plans to produce the survey in seven languages — Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Portuguese, and Spanish — which it says will ensure that gets the most complete picture possible.

One wrinkle, though: The group says that it’s still working on the survey’s methodology, meaning that reporters interested in taking it will have to wait a few months before being able to actually do so. (“We’re just getting the word out now,” Barnathan said.) ICFJ plans to wrap up the data collection next March, and will share the results soon after.

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