In the past year, we’ve been hearing about journalists actively using Twitter to source stories, get in touch with contacts, and promote their services. But a new study of journalists in the UK, France and Germany shows that Twitter isn’t the number one social media that journalists turn to: Wikipedia is. In fact, 60% of the journalists polled use Wikipedia to fact-check stories once a week. That says a lot about a new breed of journalist who is ready to embrace socially-edited information as valid for news stories. Read below the jump for more journalists in social media findings.
The Cision 2010 Social Journalism Study examined hundreds of journalists from the UK, France and Germany to get insight into their professional social media habits. And while there was some variance between countries, the data shows that social media is quickly becoming a valid, trusted, and important tool that compliments more traditional journalistic methods of information-gathering for the majority of journalists.
Journalists in the UK are most likely to think that social media is either ‘somewhat important’ or ‘important’ in their jobs, with 75% falling into one of these two response categories. About 50% of France and Germany respondents said the same.
While 80% of journalists across the board said they use social media to source and promote their stories, 70% responded that they still use traditional channels like phone calls and press releases. This shows that social media is not overtaking other forms of practicing journalism, but is instead offers another avenue for journalists to pursue sources and fact-checking.
Digging deeper into the data, we see that Wikipedia comes out on top for all journalists as the most-used social fact-checking tool. Search, contacts, corporate sites and press releases are traditional methods of working on a story that journalists use more often than social methods, but next comes Wikipedia. With 9% of respondents saying that they use Wikipedia to source a story more than once a week, it surpasses Twitter (7%), Social Networks (7%), Blogs (8%), and even the traditional Wire (6%).
The journalism industry has been in flux for some time now as publishers scramble to add a Facebook fan page to their site and journalists struggle to find a balance between fast news and accurate news. Social media was once seen as a destabilizing feature of “new journalism”, the harbinger of death for quality editorial content with its fast and easy news stories; it now appears to have found its place. Journalists are not turning into Twitter-obsessed zombies who rehash every hashtag – at least not all of them. Many are using social media to compliment other ways of gathering news. This synthesis appears to strike a balance between speed and accuracy, and might just be the solution for a confused, but absolutely vital, industry.