Most Print and Online Journalists Use Social Media for Story Research

The discussions in many newsrooms about social media often focus on whether or not it is appropriate for journalists to have a presence in social networks. Yet there is far more to interacting with social media than participating in networks.

A recent study by Cision, a provider of newsroom software for the public relations industry, and Don Bates of The George Washington University Master’s Degree Program in Strategic Public Relations, sheds some light on how journalists use social media and what they think of it as a news resource. 

The survey of 371 journalists working for newspapers, magazines, and Web sites found that a large majority of reporters and editors now depend on social media sources for story research. Among the journalists surveyed, 89 percent said they look to blogs for story research, 65 percent go to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, while 52 percent check out what’s happening on Twitter and other microblogging sites.

Some interesting takeaways from the survey:

  • Social media is also used to publish, promote and distribute news and other content. Sixty-four percent use blogs, 60 percent use social networking sites, and 57 percent use microblogging platforms.
  • Less-experienced journalists use online and social media metrics to measure the impact of their stories more than experienced journalists.
  • Ninety-one percent of journalists at newspapers and 85 percent at magazines found news from social media sites to be less reliable. That dropped to 76 percent for their counterparts working online.
  • Google is used most for search and Wikipedia is second, with 60 percent of journalists surveyed using it regularly.

Most of the journalists surveyed work in print (52 percent for magazines, 25 percent for newspapers), and the remainder work online. Their median experience in journalism is 18 years.

The full survey can be downloaded for free from the Cision Web site.

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