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Journalists and Social Media: It’s Stunning How Slow They Are to Recognize this Changes Everything

I just finished reading PRWeek’s Media Survey (print issue, April 2010), and though the text of the article indicates reporters are warming to social media, I’m quite frankly stunned that the data indicates otherwise.

There’s quite a bit of survey data, so I’d encourage you to read the article for yourself and draw your own conclusions, but here are some items that leaped off the page at me:

  • No love for blogs. 51% of journalists said they do not author any blogs. Nada. Zilch. Sifr. صفر.
  • Blogs are not sources. Only 34% cited company blogs as a source of research, which leaves me to wonder about the other 66%. More than half — 55% said they have never quoted a blog in a story and 51% say company blogs are not useful. I find this absolutely amazing in a day in age when many companies break (or leak) news on blogs rather than in press releases. Would you quote it if it were written on a napkin?
  • Even less time for social media. Only 33% of journalists report using social networks in research, which is while it is up a few points from 24% in the previous year. Ostensibly, deductive reasoning suggests two-thirds do not use social networks for research.
  • Little birdies are saying…nothin’ (useful?). 75% of journalists have never, or only rarely used Twitter for research. 68% have never quoted a Twitter post in a story. Meanwhile, 58% said press releases are important for finding experts for stories. So, if a source says it in a press release, that’s quotable, but if they say the same thing on Twitter…that is not?
  • Less responsibility than last year? 17% of journalists report having more responsibility outside of their official duties — which is down (!!!) from 20% a year ago. This is especially astonishing because most PR pros report — the format and frequency of content they produce — has easily more than doubled in the last few years. Social media never sleeps.

One thing the survey did not ask that is certain: while “attention” is finite, blogs and social networks have exploded, drawing sizable audiences. They compete for a slice of the same “time pie” that readers might have otherwise spent on traditional news sites.

It seems to be the social media savvy journalist has a major advantage over their peers in contacts, reach, sources and most importantly, readers. According to this survey, there’s still time to get a head start.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Cliff Notes to Effective Media Relations: A Summary of 3 Surveys of Editors, Reporters and Journalists [UML]

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

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