Journalists and news organizations around the world are confronted with an unprecedented and multi-faceted crisis. In many contexts, this crisis – unparalleled in the history of modern news media – is seen as constituting a serious threat to journalism and its future existence as a social institution of vital importance to democracy and governance. The Worlds of Journalism Study, a collective endeavor of scholars from more than 110 countries, has documented these transformations since its inception in 2007.
The third wave of the Worlds of Journalism Study (WJS3) shifts the analytical focus to levels of risk and uncertainty journalists are facing around the globe, as well as the ways in which they cope with and adapt to risk and uncertainty in different political, socio-economic, and cultural contexts. A major goal of the study is to compare the situation of journalism in a wide range of societies, trace developments over time, and identify key factors that drive cross-national differences in the way journalists conceive of, and deal with, risk and uncertainty.
While shifting the focus to the study of risk and uncertainty in journalism, WJS3 continues previous efforts to track the state of journalism around the world. Adding a longitudinal perspective is even more important as the institution of journalism, being in a state of flux, may be at a critical juncture in a rapidly changing media environment. In line with the overall theoretical framework, the project assesses perceptions of risk in the following key areas critical to the practice of journalism: editorial autonomy, influences on journalism, journalistic roles, journalistic epistemologies, professional ethics, safety and resiliency of journalists, and conditions of labor. These aspects will be assessed based on representative surveys of journalists in all world regions.
Overall, the study has several distinctive and innovative features:
- It uses a comprehensive conceptual and methodological approach to study journalists’ perceptions of risk and uncertainty in news production.
- It traces developments in risk and uncertainty over time, thus examining ways in which journalism copes with and adapts to changing mediascapes.
- It measures perceived risk, uncertainty and their possible consequences at different levels of impact, including the individual level of the journalist in professional and personal dimensions, the news organization, and the institution of journalism at national and international levels.
- It also includes peripheral journalists working at the margins of journalism, which allows us to better represent areas of change and transformation.
- Its global scope enables a comparative assessment of a wide range of contextual conditions (politics and governance, socio-economic development, and cultural values) and the way they configure to different environments for journalism.
- Finally, the study will be carried out in a unique collaborative effort involving researchers from more than 110 countries.
Organized as a network of researchers from around the world, including scholars from a wide range of countries in the Global South, the Worlds of Journalism Study builds on more than 15 years of experience in comparative and collaborative research. For the study of risk and uncertainty in journalism, WJS3 has established collaborations with major international organizations concerned with the future of journalism, including UNESCO, Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists.