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BizReport : Trends & Ideas : January 21, 2010

Reporters and editors increasingly use social media to source, research stories

The number of reporters and editors using social media to source stories and perform research and interviews has significantly increased in the last year or so, and a recent survey from Cision and George Washington University produced the figures to prove it.

by Helen Leggatt

Back in November, 2008, the Society for New Communications Research and Middleberg Communications found that under half (48%) of reporters used LinkedIn to source and research stories, 46% used blogs and 45% used Facebook.

Cision and GWU's latest survey showed that reporters and editors are now turning to social media in larger numbers:

- 89% of journalists said they turn to blogs for story research
- 65% to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn
- 52% to micro-blogging services such as Twitter
- 61% use Wikipedia.

Are reporters and editors who use social media being lazy, as a recent article on Gawker implies, or are they simply being resourceful? As a writer who uses all manner of social media to source and research articles, alongside traditional methods, I find this to be a bit of a non-question. Why? Because sources are sources and, as long as a reporter or editor does the necessary fact- and background-checking and can provide context, the environment in which the story is found or researched is irrelevant.

"Social media provides a wealth of new information for journalists, but getting the story right is just as important as ever," said Don Bates, founding director of the GWU Strategic Public Relations program, and writing/media relations instructor.

I wonder if the very same debates were being had when the invention of the telephone enabled reporters to interview people from a distance instead of having to meet face-to-face?

Tags: editors, journalists, news, online reporting, reporters, social media

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