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56% of journalists think social media is important for producing and sourcing stories

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 16th February 2010

A survey of US journalists published by Cision finds that 56% say social media is important for reporting and producing stories.

This comes just a week after Peter Horrocks, the new director of BBC Global News said that social media is now an essential tool for journalists and those that were ignoring it should look elsewhere for employment:

“This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology. I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary”

With Sky News recently installing Tweetdeck on all the PCs in their newsroom it seems that social media is now a must have for all journalists.

Among the journalists surveyed by Cision, 89% said they turn to blogs for story research, 65% to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52% to microblogging services such as Twitter. The survey also found that 61% use Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia.

Despite these figures and the enthusiastic uptake, it seems that there is still some wariness of using social media as a source. The research shows that reporters and editors are acutely aware of the need to verify information they get from social media. Eighty-four percent said social media sources were “slightly less” or “much less” reliable than traditional media, with 49% saying social media suffers from “lack of fact checking, verification and reporting standards.”

And we were pleased to see that PRs are still playing a vital role, with editors and reporters saying they depend on PR professionals for “interviews and access to sources and experts” (44%), “answers to questions and targeted information” (23%), and “perspective, information in context, and background information” (17%).

The Cision research was based on 371 responses conducted in autumn 2009. More than 47% of the questioned journalists had more than 20 years’ experience.