Enterprising reporters have always looked beyond the daybook or the local newspaper for stories worth exploring. They’ve browsed bulletin boards, driven around town with their windows down and scoured the Web. And now–perhaps not surprisingly–social media are an increasingly important source of story ideas and sources.
According to a national survey, the vast majority of reporters and editors use social media when researching stories. As MediaPost reports on the study by Cision and Don Bates of George Washington University:
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.
But just because journalists consult these sources doesn’t mean they use what they find without checking further. In fact, 84% of those surveyed said social media sources were “slightly less” or “much less” reliable than traditional media.
Another finding that’s probably no surprise: Journalists working for online publications are considerably more likely to use social media sources than journalists working for traditional media like newspapers and magazines. The study apparently did not include broadcast journalists.