Survey: majority of journalists use social media for researching stories

As if there wasn't enough proof, another survey points to the fact that social media is becoming an even more pervasive part of how journalists covering news. According to a post on the Columbia Journalism Review, most journalists are using social media tools like blogs and Twitter when researching their stories.

Among the journalists surveyed by Cision, a media analysis firm, and George Washington University’s Program in Strategic Public Relations: 89 percent said they use blogs for story research, 65 percent use social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and 52 percent use microblogging services like Twitter.

It's no longer an us-versus-them thing. Journalists don't need to avoid or ignore those who use social media to put out content out of fear lending them any amount of credence to the so-called competition. 

Something to point out: the numbers for sports reporters are probably even higher. Think about the amount of discussion on sports taking place in social media. If you're covering sports in a major city there's much more discussion on blogs and Twitter revolving around your subject than if you were tabbed with the cops and courts beat.

The key when using social media is striking an important balance in using and citing it. Grabbing random tweets off the web and using them as quotes in a story—something even CNN has been prone to do—is stupid and comes off lazy and using social media for the sake of using social media.

On the other side of things, if you steal someone's funny quip off of Twitter and use as the lede in your story or grab an idea from someone's blog post without linking to it that's plagiarism.

Social media should be used to get a feel for the audience, to hear what people are or were discussing and find out what they want to know more about. It's a valuable tool that can be used in some capacity for almost any story, but when it is, it should be used appropriately.

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