World Association of News Publishers

State of Newsrooms in South Asia

State of Newsrooms in South Asia


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A World Editors Forum (South Asia Chapter) Report

Newsrooms today are being plagued by a lack of editors, including multimedia editors. Our study of the State of Newsrooms in South Asia, the first such exercise ever on the issues facing this crucial component of media houses, covers the region, and the respondents come from both print and digital newsrooms.

A survey of key editors and journalists across newsrooms in South Asia, whose results form the basis of this report, was conducted in early 2019. The respondents were chosen from large and small newsrooms operating in various South Asian languages.

The report brings up the following as the most pressing issues, in this order:

  • Shortage of editors (including multimedia editors)
  • Need for upgrading editing skills
  • Shortage of reporters and reporting resources
  • Lack of technology in the newsroom
  • Breaking news 24x7

Other findings

Here's a bird's eye view of other findings:

  • Breaking news on the 'web' or digital media first is rated very high. But there is also a strong preference for the print media as a vehicle for some stories – rare interviews, features, investigative stories, analyses and the like.
  • Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) have become an important part of the news ecosystem and more than 80% of the publishers who participated in the study said they used them to disseminate news to a wider audience. That said, newsrooms still experience some amount of discomfort while using digital platforms to disseminate news, given that the issue of ownership vs reach of the content remains in question.
  • Fake news is a major concern in the newsroom. Almost all publishers make some effort to control it. Many newsrooms have formed separate desks for verifying news, and some have tied up with external fact checkers like Alt News. Interestingly, many said they use the tools offered by Google to check fake news. If published news is proved fake, either an apology or a corrigendum is issued. That's a rarity in the digital world though.
  • While online and agency sources have become common in the digital news reporting ecosystem, most newsrooms which participated in the study lay great emphasis on ground reporting.
  • While about 40% of newsroom staff are women, the number of women in senior executive roles is very low. However, newsrooms claim they plan to add more women over the coming years.
  • Almost all respondents said they trained journalist staff regularly, either internally or by registering them for external courses. But only one-third mentioned that they train their journalists in multimedia skills.
  • Over 75% of the respondents said they used a content management system. And almost half said they planned to have a new content management system in the coming year.


Suggestions to improve productivity include:

  • Segmenting the newsroom according to functions
  • Training journalists
  • Recruiting highly-skilled people
  • Using technology in the newsroom
  • Having a flexible shift system
  • Organising feedback, review and recognition
  • Arranging for daily productivity meetings

Magdoom Mohamed, Elizabeth Shilpa Abraham


WAN-IFRA's picture



2019-08-09 10:27

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