SOURCE: Oriella PR Network

May 18, 2011 11:00 ET

Social Media Infiltrates the Newsroom as Optimism Returns to Journalism

International Study of Journalists by Oriella PR Network Finds Increasing Use of Social Media to Source and Verify Stories

Slump in Advertising Revenues Slowing With Just One in Five Correspondents Expecting Their Titles to Experience a Decline in Revenue Over Next 12 Months

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - May 18, 2011) - Social media is rapidly establishing itself as an important research and verification tool for journalists, according to a new study published today by the Oriella PR Network (www.oriellaprnetwork.com). The fourth annual Digital Journalism Study reveals that large percentages of journalists now use digital and social media, such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, to source and verify the stories they develop.

The study polled 478 journalists from 15 countries, including the majority of Europe; Brazil; and the US. Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said they used Twitter to source new story angles. Over a third said they used Facebook (35 percent). Blogs were also highlighted as a key element of this process with 30 percent saying they used blogs they were familiar with, while 42 percent also drew from blogs they had not visited before. However, the study also validated the continued importance of the PR representative with nearly two thirds (62 percent) saying this is where they source stories whilst 59 percent cited corporate spokespeople as sources.

When it comes to validating stories already in progress, a third of those polled said they used Twitter; a quarter used Facebook; and a quarter used blogs. Brands and agencies still remain the dominant first port-of-call for this process though with 61 percent using PR agencies for verification and 57 percent turning to corporate spokespeople.

Social Shapes Output
As well as social media's internal influence in the newsroom, media outlets' social media output has also hit its highest levels since the study began in 2008. More than half of journalists said their outlets now had a Twitter feed (55 percent) and journalist-authored blogs (54 percent). Video is also becoming increasingly pervasive, with 48 percent (also its highest level) now producing content in this format.

The study also assessed the number of outlets and publications who didn't offer any kind of social media content (blogs, Twitter feeds, discussion boards, podcasts and any other interactive assets). In the inaugural Digital Journalism Study in 2008, a quarter of media outlets fell into this category. Now that figure stands at just an eighth of those polled.

Based on the study's data, it would seem that the popularity of online media is eclipsing that of offline media. For the first time since the study began, the proportion of respondents who agreed unequivocally that their "offline" entity attracted the largest audience fell to just below 50 percent.

Has the Dust Settled?
The findings of the Digital Journalism Study also suggest that the slump in advertising revenues is now slowing. In 2010, 62 percent of those surveyed expected to see their media outlet experience a fall in revenue. Now, barely 20 percent of journalists expect this to happen in 2011. The cautiously optimistic outlook is also reflected in the respondents' thoughts on audience figures. In 2010, 41 percent of those surveyed expected their audiences to decline going forward. This year, this figure was reduced to just nine percent.

With the permeation of social media and the raised hopes for increased advertising revenues and audiences, the study finds evidence that many journalists are under more pressure than ever. Almost half (45 percent) admitted they have to produce more content and a third (34 percent) work longer hours. However, despite this added pressure, 44 percent of the respondents said they enjoyed their job more, compared with 34 percent in 2010 and just 27 percent in 2009.

Giles Fraser, Co-Head of the Oriella PR Network and Co-Founder of Brands2Life, said: "This year's study demonstrates the fast-growing acceptance of social media in the newsrooms, both in the collation of stories and the telling of them. Whereas in previous years, media outlets viewed social media as an experimental platform, they now view it as a bona fide source. The proliferation of channels makes a single, clear storyline, communicated effectively in text, video and images more important than ever. Brands must ensure that, despite the multitude of new channels available, their message does not get lost in its delivery. The requirement to manage the message across all these channels and produce the content that is relevant means that the role of the communications professional will continue to evolve rapidly in the years to come."

About the 2011 Digital Journalism Study
The Oriella Digital Journalism study is an annual survey of journalists worldwide conducted by the Oriella PR Network, a leading, global alliance of independent technology PR agencies. This year is the fourth year the study has been carried out and it is based on responses from almost 500 journalists from broadcast, national, trade and consumer titles in 15 countries.

The full report can be downloaded from: www.orielladigitaljournalism.com

About the Oriella PR Network
The Oriella PR Network is an alliance of 15 communications agencies in 20 countries around the world. Our partnership of independent agencies was built upon a set of global best practices and close working relationships not offered by others of its kind. The network was founded by Brands2Life and Horn Group with the support of agencies around the world with whom they have worked successfully on client projects - in some cases for many years. Oriella partners exist in major and secondary markets throughout The Americas, Europe and Asia/Pacific.

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