Surprise! Dwindling resources worry investigative journalists far more than surveillance and hacking
The latest Pew Research Center study — on "Investigative Journalists and Digital Security" — released Wednesday, found rising concern about hacking and government snooping. But neither came close to being the biggest challenge to those journalists doing their job well.
Instead 88 percent of 671 members of Investigative Reporters and Editors surveyed said "decreasing resources in newsrooms" was their top concern. Other multiple choice options — legal action against journalists (5 percent), electronic surveillance (4 percent) and hacking (1 percent) — trailed by a mile.
I'm not stunned that resources came out on top, but the overwhelming margin is surprising. It suggests that most investigative reporters see their bosses cutting back on investigative work and feel pressed to deliver quickly on those projects that are approved.
To the main point of the study, 64 percent of those surveyed believe the U.S. government has probably collected data about their communications.
About half have made changes in their communications both with sources and internally as a result. And 14 percent said that concerns over surveillance had caused them to stop pursuing a story or source or even consider leaving investigative journalism over the last 12 months.
The survey, done in early December, was a joint project of the Pew Research Center's journalism and media division and Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
Related: Poynter's News University has Webinars on digital security available for replay. They include: Digital Security for Journalists and How to Tell Great Investigative Stories with Dwindling Resources.