JournalismSocial Media

Journalists Using Social Media More for Story Research

Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University recently conducted a national survey of reporters and editors to gauge their usage of social media sources when researching stories.

This is a topic I’ve written about in the past, related to a separate survey that found 70% of journalists use social media for reporting, but I thought it was a more current look at the data and an interesting counterpoint to my recent post about whether or not journalists are on board with social media.

The Cision survey found 89 percent of journalists turn to blogs for story research, 65 percent to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, 61 percent to Wikipedia, and 52 percent to microblogging services such as Twitter. At first glance, it would appear as though the majority of reporters and editors are in the face “on board” with social media.

Is Social Media Important to Journalists?

According to the survey results, only 15 percent of respondents said social media is “Important”, while 40 percent said “Somewhat Important.” While usage levels may be higher, take those stats with a grain of salt. I’m sure most journalists would say they use email as part of their daily work, but only a very small percentage of the messages they receive are “important” to the work they do.

Of additional interest, the survey data suggests journalists reporting and producing stories for websites found social media most important (69 percent), while traditional newspaper and magazine journalists found social media less important (48 percent). Few surprises here, but very significant data for media relations professionals to take into consideration when leveraging social media as part of their programs.

What is surprising is the number of journalists that cited blogs as an important source of background information for story research. 89 percent of the journalists surveyed use blogs for their online research – only Corporate Websites (96 percent) is used more by journalists. What’s the takeaway here? Make sure you have your newsroom up-to-date before you launch that blogging initiative, but get on the blogging bandwagon fast if you’re not there already.

It’s also obvious from the survey data that journalists are warming up to social networking sites for story research. If your expert sources aren’t already using LinkedIn and Facebook to promote their expertise, this should be a component of your PR strategy moving forward.

I love surveys like this. This is the type of data PR professionals need to develop more effective communications strategies. Read more about the survey results in the Cision press release here.

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