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January 21, 2010
Social Media Use Among Reporters Increases

Journalists advise news sources are going increasingly social -- that is, social media sources are proving increasingly useful to reporters researching their stories. That's what an "overwhelming majority" of reporters advised  in a national survey by Cision and Don Bates, of the George Washington University's Master's Degree Program in Strategic Public Relations.

"Among the journalists surveyed," says a PR Newswire release on the study, "89 percent said they turn to blogs for story research, 65 percent to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52 percent to microblogging services such as Twitter. The survey also found that 61 percent use Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia."

Reporters remain mindful, however, that social media source material needs to be verified. They appear to view it as less reliable than information received from traditional media.

"Eighty-four percent said social media sources were 'slightly less' or 'much less' reliable than traditional media," the survey found, "with 49 percent saying social media suffers from 'lack of fact-checking, verification, and reporting standards.'"

Even so, "Mainstream media have clearly hit a tipping point in their reliance on social media for their research and reporting," said Heidi Sullivan, Vice President of Research for Cision.

"However, it's also clear that while social media is supplementing the research done by journalists, it is not replacing editors' and reporters' reliance on primary sources, fact-checking and other traditional best practices in journalism."

It's good to know that beady-eyed standards remain even as reporters and editors turn to new, readily available sources of online information. The survey is also an indication that PR people should be increasingly interested in the media relations potential of business blogging.   



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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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