More and more journalists are turning to social media channels as a source of news, as well as to validate stories and uncover new article angles, topics and ideas. And, who’s to blame them? With more than 632 million registered Twitter accounts and upward of 900 million active Facebook users, social media sites have a plethora of publically accessible content, opinions and posts that can act as a ready-made ecosystem for reporters to leverage.
Looking further at this trend, Oriella recently released its 2012 global digital journalism research study, which evaluates how journalists source and manage news today. This year’s study found that more than half of the 613 journalists surveyed across 16 countries now use social media, including Twitter and Facebook, as a main source for their story ideas (62 percent in North America), and nearly half use blogs to find article angles and ideas (64 percent in North America).
While not particularly unique, as other surveys conducted over the years have come to the same conclusions, including studies from Cision and TEKGROUP, Oriella’s report uncovered some interesting findings with regards to the trustworthiness of the social media sources journalists are using. As Oriella puts it, “the informed individual seems to have regained the edge over the wisdom of the crowds.”
Indeed, it turns out that, globally, while 54 percent will use social media sites and 44 percent will use blogs, this is only for trusted news sources or ones the journalists were already familiar with. For unfamiliar sources, only 26 percent of journalists worldwide would use social media sites and 22 percent would use an unknown blog as a source.
So, while tactics of crowdsourcing from the social media masses may still be used by some journalists, a greater preference for credibility and trusted sources are showing a shift back to more traditional news writing strategies. And while social media may still be the first to break big news, I still believe people will turn to feature articles to get the real scoop and details sourced from credible, trustworthy sources. This is important for PR agencies and their media relations efforts, it’s important for companies and most certainly it’s important for the public at large.
This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.