Not so much hunters as gatherers

Cision, the media monitoring group, has been doing some great work with Canterbury Christ Church University on the use of social media by journalists. Their latest Global Social Journalism Survey might have some rather retro analysis – splitting media into “Architects”, “Promoters”, “Hunters”, “Observers” and “Sceptics” – but it also has some useful research into the use of social media by the, um, media.

What is clear is that in the most developed media markets, social media has become an essential tool for journalists researching stories – and therefore for anyone trying to get information to them. Journalists in Canada, the US and the UK lead the pack and Cision has found that British hacks spend over three and a half hours a day on social media for work – or so they say – and more than half of them have over 500 followers on Twitter. Other key stats to pick out – and I apologise for focussing on UK media but I am sitting in London – include 79.4% of journalists using microblogs (i.e.Twitter) for work, 84% use social media to source stories, 60.8% to verify stories and 66.8% to monitor for what is happening.

The importance of social media as a way of getting to journalists is not a new phenomenon – although you might think so if you’ve been in a room with certain “flat earth” communicators. What is increasingly surprising is the extent to which the media uses its upstart cousin and for what. The level of use of social media for sourcing and verifying stories is probably a product of the intense pressure on costs in media organisation, which mean journalists are increasingly:

  1. Time poor. Not able to go out and meet contacts or chase stories as much as they’d like;
  2. Inexperienced, with media organisations employing younger and cheaper reporters;
  3. Under pressure to file stories rapidly to feed the copy hungry digital editions.

What is clear is that most journalists are not “Architects”, “Promoters”, “Hunters”, “Observers” and “Sceptics” but “Gatherers”, using social media to gather the low hanging fruit that can fill up the yawning need for “news”.

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