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Journalists must work to 'future-proof' their business and find more sustainable funding models going forward, a survey into journalists’ views found.

Cxense’s 'Don’t stop the press' survey shows that 46 per cent of reporters have a negative outlook for the future of the journalism industry, with less than ten per cent believing that working in the industry gives them job security.

However, it also found that only one in five journalists said their newsrooms use data to deliver personalised content to their readers.

David Gosen, chief commercial officer at Cxense, said newsrooms that neglect using data in such ways are missing out on vital opportunities.

"Data needs to be embraced by the journalism industry to secure the future," he said.

"If you increase the personalised content, you drive higher page views, greater dwell time and higher impressions, which enables the publisher to generate higher advertising revenues."

He added that better utilisation of this data will help build a better picture of who your audience is and how they engage with pieces to better enable organisations to tailor their content to audience behaviour.

Whilst almost all (89 per cent) welcomed the increasing role of technology in journalism, two-thirds of reporters were concerned that ad revenue-based models of funding favour more short-form and 'clickbaity' content.

Gosen said a balance has to be struck between tailoring content to algorithms and other topics that are important to cover, even if it does not necessarily perform as well.

Subscription-based models can help in achieving this and allow reporters to raise the quality of their work and create more long-form content, without the fear of it being punished by algorithms.

The survey found that 90 per cent of journalists either liked paywalls, or saw them as necessary and, with the Reuters Institute finding that 52 per cent of publishers are working on building a subscription audience this year, Gosen said this speaks to the power of new business models supporting news organisations.

"There is no question that paywalls are working because the growth of subscription in publications like the Wall Street Journal has been significant. If you have quality content and you put it behind a paywall, people are prepared to pay for it.

"There is a really positive effect not only to provide the funding but to continue to lift the quality of content being produced and you find that content behind a paywall can often be more long form, which speaks to many of the wishes and demands of journalists."

However, according to the survey, one of the biggest threats to journalism is the reluctance of readers to pay for digital content.

"There is no silver bullet here. The challenge is for newsrooms and journalists is to use the right data at the right time, to help them inform some of their decisions. 

"It can never replace 100 per cent the human factor, but what it can do is help direct journalists, editors, publishers in terms of how best to monetise their content and create long-lasting relationships with their readers that ultimately drive profitability."

Despite the survey’s finding that almost 80 per cent of journalists are concerned about the future of journalism, Gosen explained that there is light at the end of the tunnel as new business models that are emerging today alongside the smarter use of data in the newsroom, will become the driver of funding for the journalism of tomorrow.

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