Accuracy in Media

A new study has revealed that a growing number of journalists are using social media to research and verify stories.

The fourth annual Digital Journalism Study, which was released last week, surveyed 478 journalists from 15 countries, with the majority of them coming from Europe, Brazil and the U.S.

Twitter was the big winner with nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) saying that they used the microblogging service to source new story angles. A little over one-third (35 percent) said they used Facebook. Slightly trailing were blogs at  30 percent, showing that they aren’t dead yet but they aren’t as important as Twitter and Facebook.

However, when it comes to verifying a story in progress, the percentages drop to one-third for Twitter and one-quarter for Facebook and blogs.

While social media is important, it still hasn’t been able to replace PR representatives (62 percent) or corporate spokesmen (57 percent) as sources for stories.

The study also looked at news outlets and publications that didn’t offer any type of social media content on their websites and  found that the number has fallen by one-half in just four years and continues to drop at an accelerated pace.

It won’t be much longer before Twitter and Facebook become the major news sources for journalists. For some they have already become the only news source they use, thanks to the real-time aspect of these platforms.

Longtime journalists may scoff at the notion that using Twitter, Facebook or blogs is real journalism. It certainly doesn’t resemble anything they were taught in college, but that was then and this is now.

Neal Mann a young journalist with Sky News in Britain reinforces the study’s findings in a recent post on the BBC’s College of Journalism website:

[M]y Twitter feed is a personalised wire service, except, unlike the traditional wires, I have to interact with it… my followers have become an extra tipping service. I often receive tweets from followers along the lines of ‘have you seen this’ or ‘check their timeline’, and this interaction has proved invaluable.

Mann admits that monitoring 2,000 news sources via Twitter isn’t easy but that there aren’t any other options if he wants to work in a 21st century news organization.

The news no longer waits for the evening news programs or the morning paper. Instead, it moves at a high speed thanks to improvements in technology that have spawned social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Social media has reshaped the media landscape and those that don’t adapt to this new form of technology will eventually be relegated to the dustbin of history.

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