70 Percent of Journalists Use Social Networks to Assist in Reporting

According to a new survey from Middleberg Communications and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), as reported in PRWeek , 70 percent of journalists said they use social networks to assist in reporting (compared to 41 percent last year). This is a huge spike in one year, though it shouldn’t surprise any of us with all the lists of journalists using Twitter and other social networks.

The survey also found that 69 percent of respondents go to company websites to assist in their reporting, while 66 percent use blogs, 51 percent use Wikipedia (wow), 48 percent go to online videos (double wow), and 47 percent use Twitter and other microblogging services (would have guessed higher on this one).

A big part of this shift has to revolve around journalists having less help to do their jobs, while being required to produce more content across various formats in near real-time. Journalists have no choice but to use these tools to find sources fast – and in some instances – crowdsource suggestions, tips and interviews.

Social media is helping journalists do their jobs more effectively and efficiently, just as it helps citizen journalists and the general public find information faster than they could in traditional media. Social media is a much faster path to answers than traditional online or offline methods. In the Middleberg survey, 92 percent of journalists strongly or somewhat agreed that social media is enhancing journalism, citing the tools’ benefits for helping them work faster.

When it comes to Twitter, 57 percent of journalists found this social medium to be credible. When you consider the skepticism present in many newsrooms around new technologies, this is a significant data point. There is no question that journalists are embracing this channel as a platform of choice for social media journalism (if there is such a thing).

Of course, the survey has only tabulated the results from 317 journalism professionals so far. The survey is still open for a few more weeks, with the final results set to be reported in early November at the SNCR Research Symposium & Awards Gala. We don’t expect the numbers to change that drastically betwen now and the final report.

So What’s This Mean for You?

If you’re a journalist, and you’re not using social networks, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. You’re probably working harder than you need to. If you’re a source or a public relations professional, social media represents the most immediate path to increased results. If you position yourself as a source (and don’t do anything stupid to tick off a journalist through these social channels), you could find a goldmine of new publicity opportunities for you and your clients. Also, as a final note, don’t overlook your online newsroom. Journalists still consider your online newsroom as the top source for credible information on you.

How are you using social networks to assist your reporting? How are you using social media to transform your media relations strategies? Let us know.

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.


  1. As a former journalist, I just wanted to pipe in. Journalists will rarely use things like Twitter or Wikipedia as an end point. Wikipedia is great for just getting an initial sketch of a situation, topic or thing. You can then figure out where to go next with the story, and where there blanks or biases that need confirming.

    And Twitter/Facebook are great for finding sources, but you never end there. You just use it as a place to get in touch with people. At least, hopefully..

  2. I’m so glad that this data has come out to confirm what was a hunch for quite a while now. My favorite nugget of information above is that 69% go to company websites as part of their research. All the more reason that HTML press releases with plenty of links to usable content are a necessity these days. In response to the comment above, I don’t think that anyone out there is suggesting that social media would be the sole source of information for journalists, but rather a piece in their research pie.

  3. I didn’t see any mention of LINKEDIN for company info. Reporters/bloggers/jobseekers/anyone can find more info on companies through these pages and the sources [i.e., current and past employees].

    Of course, the seeker needs to have a LinkedIn page with contacts to get the deepest value from the layers of connections available.

  4. The only thing about that number that surprises me is how low it still is. I mean, (1) social networks can be treated as biz directories that tell you how to find/contact sources, and (2) sources will leave a trail of data that you might not otherwise know, letting you really understand and estimate them.

  5. Just 70%? I bet it’s much higher since this was published. I think it’s one of the best ways to get breaking news. For example, this morning, a girl on my twitter tweeted about a house fire, and then the news picked up on it. Social media is so powerful in journalism.

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