Winter 2009     News, tidbits and thoughts on improving electronic communications

SURVEY RESULTS: What we learned about New Media usage

This year, we wanted to learn more about how journalists are using new media, how it has changed the way they research and write stories, as well as how new mediums have been added to their responsibilities.
One of the interesting things we learned—with repercussions for how PR professionals communicate with, and provide assets to, journalists—is that roughly 60% of journalists say they now contribute to a blog or other on-line site. Thirty-nine percent of our respondents said they acquired these responsibilities in the past year and 71% added on-line work to their duties in the past two years.

They are also using new media to research stories: 93% use search, 78% use electronic press kits (digital news releases), and 41% use blogs.  Other options garnered less interest with only 26% saying they used social media, 21% podcasts or videocasts and 16% RSS feeds.  And, as noted above, new media elements in releases, such as web content or embed codes for video and audio, are beginning to be more important.

But the most interesting information came from our open ended question: how has new media had an impact on your work? You can see all the unedited responses here, but, to give you the flavor, the results were passionate but totally contradictory. In short, they either love it or hate it.

Most of our respondents said new media has had a huge impact, changing how they research and publish. In that category, are responses like these:

Many of my stories are published on-line, so I often write first for the web edition, then later for the print version. As a result, I have rolling deadlines. I've also been tasked to take photos and videos while reporting a story when a regular photographer was not available to take either. So, I've had to incorporate new skills.

We're highly encouraged to get audio and video elements to local story packages. I had to do a weekly video about one of my columns, but that got killed. Electronic releases save time and paper.

Blogs and the internet in general are the most important research tools I have.

Although I belong to several social networking communities, I never use them for work-related research. Many use/follow Twitter feeds, but I don't really bother with those.
But others seem to find new media overwhelming and perhaps even untrustworthy:
  … I routinely check it because of its growing usage, but I have found it to be mostly garbage and disappointing and a waste of time.

Raised my anxiety level + frustration level as PRs often direct me to a site rather than just spoon-feed the who-what-where-when-why that I need.
A few respondents put their finger on these contradictions, noting both the pros and cons: 

Web searches and information received via email have made finding information easier, however, it also has increased the amount of information, which can make it difficult to find the right/best information.

Makes it both easier and more complicated.

More information is out there -- but there may not be time to pursue all of the avenues. I don't like audio and video because it's hard to load on my antique newsroom computer and it takes too long to watch and listen to.

Read more about what our respondents had to say about new media here and see the responses in chart form here.