From a January 20, 2010 Press Release on Cision’s site:
A national survey conducted by Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University’s Master’s Degree Program in Strategic Public Relations found that an overwhelming majority of reporters and editors now depend on social media sources when researching their stories. Among the journalists surveyed, 89% said they turn to blogs for story research, 65% to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52% to microblogging services such as Twitter. The survey also found that 61% use Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia.
The first question that comes to mind for me is this one: once they find the information are they verifying it?
Do they make the phone calls to the poster?
Do they follow up with phone calls and emails to the sources the poster cites?
According to the survey, most of the reporters, editors and journalists are acutely aware of the need to verify the social media findings. Therefore, while journalists are using social media to supplement their research, it’s not replacing their primary sources. Thank goodness!
Overall the survey found positive things to say about mainstream media’s use of social media. One line sticks out for me though, and it’s this one: “49% said that social media suffers from “lack of fact checking, verification and reporting standards.”
Sorry, but I couldn’t resist.
Social media encompasses all forms of communication using the internet. From Twitter to Facebook, from corporate blogs to personal journals, from private forums to public rant sites, from Wikipedia to Ezine.com. And because of this diversity of platforms, content must be read and used with caution.
Another reason why an experienced info pro is vital to the success of many companies.
Possessing the knowledge and skills to find the information as well as the ability to discern which information is most relevant to the client AND compelled to verify ‘facts’ and figures – is why being an info pro is challenging, rewarding and satisfying.
Just as journalists must verify the source and statements, and clarify the final results in a digestible format suitable for their audience – an info pro uses the telephone, the internet and the local library to do the same.
I’m relieved to know that journalists still believe in the need to verify because it adds credibility to the profession. It also reminds me that I, too, must always assure my clients that I verified the information found, and am not relying on idle gossip or the frivolous ramblings of a former employee.
Having said all this, what are your thoughts about news reporters and journalists? Do you view mainstream media differently than underground news sources? Do you believe social media is a viable and reliable source for information? Please share your thoughts with me, I’d really like to know.