Journalist Social Media Usage Increases, Concerns About Reliability of Information

Yesterday Cision released the results of their Social Media and Online Usage Study, a survey of social media usage by print and Web journalists. Conducted with Don Bates of George Washington University, the study measures the journalists’ use of and attitudes toward social media for researching and reporting stories.

While it could be argued that some of the findings come down to common sense there are some interesting statistics in the report.

Here are a few things that I’d like to highlight:

55% of the journalists said that social media was “important” or “somewhat important” for reporting and producing stories:

Social Media Importance - Cision Journalist Study

I tend to focus on how social media helps news sites to engage with audiences and promote their content, but it also offers a great way for journalists to research stories and gain insight into trending topics and public sentiment.

The flip side to that is that not everything gleaned from monitoring social media activity is accurate or reliable. So it’s not surprising that 84% of the journalists indicated that news and information delivered via social media was “slightly less” or “much less” reliable/vetted than news delivered via traditional media. The number one reason for this lack of confidence was a “lack of fact-checking, verification or reporting standards.”

Reliability of Social Media News - Cision Journalist Study

Blogs were by far the most used social media tool (I’ll avoid the discussion on whether a blog is a publishing platform or a social media tool – or both) but microblogging and social networking sites also had significant usage:

Social Media Tools - Cision Journalist Study

Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook were particularly utilized by journalists writing for websites (71%) as opposed to print magazines (61%) or newspapers (49%). A similar difference exists for microblogging sites like Twitter.

Newspaper journalists were the most likely to report using no social media tools (21%).

The section on sources used had an interesting stat that relates to the discussion of press release usage by bloggers and local news sources. According to the survey:

Less experienced journalists use information from press releases and PR professionals more now than five years ago to write their stories – more so than their more experienced counterparts.

So I guess the takeaway there is go after the new folks.

There is a lot more data in the Cision study so I recommend downloading it to get the whole story.

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