STUDY: How Do Journalists Use Social Media Today?


We’re all very aware that journalism on the whole is having something of a “moment”. Thankfully, The Indiana School of Journalism has attempted to answer some of the central questions in media and PR with a report on the state of the practice that is essential reading for every communications professional worth his or her salt.

As The Washington Post reported this week, two professors at the school surveyed more than 1,000 pro newsmen and women to create “The American Journalist in the Digital Age“, the latest edition of a survey they’ve run approximately once a decade since 1971.

Takeaways and cool graphs* after the jump.

First of all, Twitter is not dead–despite all the well-written eulogies you may have read. Now that we got that out of the way…

40% of respondents say social is “very important” to their jobs, and more than a third spend at least 30 minutes on networks every day.

Here are some more general findings that inspire mixed emotions (sniff):


What happened in 2002?

  • More are unhappy with the direction in which their discipline is headed
  • They feel less autonomous in being able to select which stories they cover
  • On average they’re older, more likely to be women…and more likely to be white. But that stubborn gender pay gap just won’t go away.
  • They’re less likely to admit that they associate with either of our two major political parties

Interestingly, they’re also more concerned with ethics: they’re less likely to feel OK using confidential info, less interested in “badgering or harassing news sources”, and more dedicated to “analyzing complex problems” than reaching the widest possible audience with their material.

Now on to those social stats: it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Twitter is their social tool of choice (though it’s interesting to note that the researchers classified blogs by other journos and regular Joes as “social media”).


Here’s what we find to be the most interesting graph in the study: what purposes does social serve?


Note the popularity of using social to locate sources and find/verify information.

Now here’s a shocker: the primary value of social, according to the journalistic community, concerns self-promotion.


We are, however, slightly surprised to learn that less than half of respondents think social increases their ability to communicate with relevant people.

And that’s where you come in.

Finally, journalists want to learn more because, like savvy PR people, they realize that their skills must constantly evolve in order for them to truly excel at their jobs.

Can you guess the areas in which they feel they need the most improvement? Here are a few, in order:

  • Social media engagement
  • SEO
  • News analysis
  • Collaboration and crowdsourcing
  • “Using web stats to drive news agenda”

Now, we know that the relationship between journalism and PR is well-established and that hiring reporters to do PR is not a new phenomenon even though more firms seem to be doing it.

Yet, based on the results of this survey, we have to say that it seems like there’s still plenty for the two disciplines to teach one another.

We’re not really so far apart, are we?

*All images courtesy of the University of Indiana School of Journalism

[H/T Hotwire PR]