Declining advertising revenues are the greatest challenge facing the journalism world today, according to key findings from a global survey of journalists conducted by Berlin-based agency Sweet Spot PR.

The survey, which polled the press on the current state of journalism as well as some of the challenges facing the industry, found a majority of respondents worldwide (27 percent) cited declining ad and print revenues as the biggest current threat to the profession today. About one in five (19.5 percent) cited an overabundance of work as a result of staff cuts. The advent of fake news came in third, at 17.3 percent. Other top concerns included social media (11.8 percent) and government crackdowns on the free press (10.7 percent). 

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In the U.S., fears surrounding ad/print revenue declines were even higher, cited as a top concern among nearly a third of all U.S.-based journalists polled (29.3 percent). Worries about staff cuts were also higher (20.3 percent), as were concerns surrounding the threat of social media (13.3 percent). 

Respondents were also asked to offer a single word that they believe adequately defines journalism today. The survey discovered that most journalists view the industry negatively, with 69.2 percent using a negative word to describe their work, versus 30.8 percent who used a positive phrase (the top words chosen were “challenged” and “struggling”). This negative characterization was particularly stark in the Middle East, Asia and Africa (12.9 percent positive, versus 87.1 percent negative) but also slanted negative in North America (65.7 percent negative versus 34.3 percent positive in the U.S.; and 60 percent negative versus 40 percent positive in Canada). The only exception to this involved journalists living in Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), where positive words outweighed negative words (53.3 percent to 46.6 percent, respectively).

Sweet Spot PR’s poll, “The Status Quo of Journalists Around the World,” surveyed 365 journalists from 52 countries between August and October.