Journalists Using Social Media More for Story Research

Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University recently conducted a national survey of reporters and editors to gauge their usage of social media sources when researching stories.

This is a topic I’ve written about in the past, related to a separate survey that found 70% of journalists use social media for reporting, but I thought it was a more current look at the data and an interesting counterpoint to my recent post about whether or not journalists are on board with social media.

The Cision survey found 89 percent of journalists turn to blogs for story research, 65 percent to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, 61 percent to Wikipedia, and 52 percent to microblogging services such as Twitter. At first glance, it would appear as though the majority of reporters and editors are in face “on board” with social media.

Is Social Media Important to Journalists?

According to the survey results, only 15 percent of respondents said social media is “Important”, while 40 percent said “Somewhat Important.” While usage levels may be higher, take those stats with a grain of salt. I’m sure most journalists would say they use email as part of their daily work, but only a very small percentage of the messages they receive are “important” to the work they do.

Of additional interest, the survey data suggests journalists reporting and producing stories for websites found social media most important (69 percent), while traditional newspaper and magazine journalists found social media less important (48 percent). Few surprises here, but very significant data for media relations professionals to take into consideration when leveraging social media as part of their programs.

What is surprising is the number of journalists that cited blogs as an important source of background information for story research. 89 percent of the journalists surveyed use blogs for their online research – only Corporate Websites (96 percent) is used more by journalists. What’s the takeaway here? Make sure you have your newsroom up-to-date before you launch that blogging initiative, but get on the blogging bandwagon fast if you’re not there already.

It’s also obvious from the survey data that journalists are warming up to social networking sites for story research. If your expert sources aren’t already using LinkedIn and Facebook to promote their expertise, this should be a component of your PR strategy moving forward.

I love surveys like this. This is the type of data PR professionals need to develop more effective communications strategies. Read more about the survey results in the Cision press release here.

(Image Credit: 154 Blue Chrome Rain Social Media Icons by webtreats)


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. Thanks for sharing. I completely agree that surveys like this are helpful. Believe it or not, I still have some clients who think the best, most valid coverage is what appears on the front page of a print newspaper, and the only way to get there is through a news release. Research like this is the ammo I need to state my case.

  2. “Journalistics” is a great site — truly a public service of benefit to any journalist or PR pro. Count me in as a regular follower.

    I do have one question about/quibble with this Cision survey: When it says that “89 percent of journalists turn to blogs for story research,” I wonder, “what blogs,” or “what kinds of blogs”? My concern is that misguided corporate marketing departments, many of whom still view blogging as a form of product or brand advertisement for their company vs. what it’s meant to be — practical, non-biased information — will see this and go “Oh boy, let’s churn out more blogs and drive up our media coverage!” As a former reporter turned publicist, I certainly hope that my colleagues in the media community aren’t turning to such thinly-veiled corporate propaganda for story research.

    I have talked to some companies that want their agencies to turn PR into a “content factory” that spews out that kind of drivel. If you’re interested, check out my reaction here:

    As a journalist, I prided myself on the hours I put in researching and fact-checking story ideas before creating a news article, feature or trend piece . All journalists did in that bygone era, ergo I’m not patting myself on the back — it was standard operating procedure for the profession. These days, I notice with increasing alarm the tendency of reporters to simply re-hash a company press release and post it as “news,” without making the least effort to ground the story with an interview, fact check it with an industry analyst, or round it out by including opposing or competitive viewpoints. In my estimation, reporters who do this are just hacks. If they’re now using corporate blogs as sources, they might as well change their job description to the same thing they sometimes call me and me colleagues – flaks.

  3. First of all, I would like to say that I completely agree with HDLime about the need of changing the client´s mind through the advantage of the new media, and this text is a good example for that.

    I was doing a work experience in a newspaper and when I did not have a topic for this day, my boss always told me: “look for it in different blogs”. So one day, I did a feature article in a whole page about the tourism in one city only using blogs, because I needed to know the opinion about the visitors of the city and Internet allows me to have a lot of different points of view with only one click.

    Finally, I would like to say that the data about Corporate Websites (96% of the journalists use it) have two points of viwe for me. In one side, it is an advantage because the journalists search information directly of the source without intermediary, but on the other side, the journalists could publish only propaganda. Journalists should use more that this source.

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