Journalists see social media as instrument to advance reporting, not threat

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Global public relations group, ECCO International, recently conducted an international survey of 1149 journalists from 12 countries about their social media habits and preferences and found they viewed social media as ‘complementary’ and not a threat, Bizcommunity, an online news agency, has reported.

It is found that day-to-day journalists are undertaking background research, rapid information gathering and opinion mining using social media on a daily basis.

However, more interactive methods of social media such as crowd sourcing for research, asking interview questions and liaising with PRs featured much lower on the breakdown of their daily use. Of those surveyed, according to the Bizcommuntiy report, 87 percent view social media as being complementary to traditional journalism as opposed to a threat.

Facebook dominated as the most popular social media platform for journalists internationally (86%), apart from in the UK where LinkedIn crept ahead. Twitter was voted the second most popular tool among journalists (61%), apart from in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, where the younger platform Google+ was more popular.

However, the online tools journalists use for researching varied internationally. For instance, according to the report, in the UK (75%), UAE (93%), South Africa (68%) and Sweden (50%), Twitter came out on top, while in the Eastern European countries (Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary) Twitter’s popularity came second (25%) to Facebook (71%).

As for how social media is changing the way journalists interact with communications professionals – journalists in the UK placed less importance on personal contact and phone conversations (59%), with email cited as the most important source for their day-to-day job (80%), while social media featured very low (17%).

Whereas their Polish counterparts still favour more traditional methods of communication with (90%) citing personal contact and phone conversations as the most important source for their day-to-day jobs. The top three most important sources for journalist across the globe were email (75%), search engines (68%) and personal contact (70%).

When it comes to the potential pitfalls of social media, journalists appear to be approaching it with care with over three quarters (77%) of those surveyed agreeing that the speed of social media and lack of control over sources will be a problem for quality standards in journalism, except in Poland where over half (55%) agreed with this statement.

Four in 10 journalists agreed that certain skills were needed to do research or write for social media. However, over three quarters of journalists surveyed stated that they have never been on any social media related training. Despite this, most journalists feel that their knowledge of and competency in using social media is average (55%), rather than very good (37%) or bad/non-existent (8%), the report said.

Lutz Cleffmann, marketing director of ECCO International, told Bizcommunity: “The survey shows clearly that social media has become an important channel of interaction with journalists, but the importance of channels varies very much from country to country. Therefore, local knowledge stays an indispensable prerequisite of success.”

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