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Social media, journalism and PR 2.0

Journalism conceptEuropean research (more below) shows that journalists use online tools to gather information. Fortunately it’s often to find additional information. But unfortunately journalists also often completely base themselves on what is being spread online on social networks such as Twitter and that is not without risks.

You will probably remember at least one story where a newspaper, for instance, came with a full news story based on just a few tweets (and in some cases even just one – 1 – tweet). News media themselves are changing. Investigative journalism takes time and thus is expensive for media. On top of that, the competition with (group) blogs that focus on niche news topics is huge. Yes, competition. For what? The ad revenues and the scarce attention of people in a world full of content as content marketing becomes increasingly widespread. A decent newspaper or medium can’t survive without eyeballs or ad revenues in the current business models they have.

On many news-focussed (group) blogs, the authors are not journalists. In marketing for instance, they are often former marketers. But in so-called professional media, there is also a change in journalism, often for the worse. The reasons being, besides the above mentioned, the way new generations of journalists have learned to use online and social media (well, they grew up with Internet) but sometimes have not learned how to check sources and write a more or less objective news story.

Obviously it’s not like that for all media and journalists but nevertheless…  We do live a bit in a copy, paste and rewrite era where journalists don’t only have to write but also have to think about eyeballs.

Enter Journalism 2.0 and PR 2.0

Some say journalism is dead. If everything some people said would die since the arrival of social media effectively was dead now, I guess there would not be much around anymore except maybe social media.

Fortunately the world is not black or white and the “xyz is dead” mania seems more like an obsession for some and obviously a way to…create traffic and buzz for others. Then, what is the influence of social media on journalism? Well, apparently these days we have to call it Journalism 2.0. Cool, would have never came up with such a name myself.

Journalists and news media use social media more often to share their stories and also to find (additional information about) news stories. After all, people are on social media, right? So what’s a journalist to do?

Enter Holger Schmidt, a German journalist and founder of Tweetranking.com. Holger posted a presentation on slideshare on the impact of social media on the news business (yes, of course news is business, that’s why you don’t always have to believe what you read).

The presentation shows some nice graphs on the way people use social media to find and “consume” news and some graphs regarding the evolutions in social media usage.

Twitter: your newswire

On top of that, the presentation shows the role of Twitter in the dispersion of news and Holger concludes that Twitter is “news media” (meaning in the first place a medium where news is shared, which he proves with some stats and leading news media Twitter accounts, including many of the yet mentioned group blogs). Finally, Twitter is also called ‘the most important newswire’.

So Holger also has news for PR folks (as you know it’s also PR 2.0 now, don’t forget): identify the influencers and what he calls “Superhubs” on Twitter.

Social media are used to spread news (and apparently less to “converse” about it than we tend to think). Fine. Journalists also use social media for research (even crowdsourcing) and to identify trends. Fine. Holger even provides a list of social media monitoring tools. Yes, news travels fast in the online world and yes, there is such a thing as citizen journalism. But if journalism 2.0 (I guess it will be 3.0 by then) becomes journalism without digging (no, not the social bookmarking site), investigating, thinking, having opinions, confronting and interviewing, then journalism might indeed slowly die.

The news media won’t, they will have ad revenues and probably still subscribers. But real journalism? I fear for it. Maybe because I used to be a journalist.

Journalists and influencers pick up your tweets and blogs

PR people know since quite some time that journalists and other “influential voices” intensively use social and the Web to find news and information to create their stories or add context to them, on top of using blogs and social to share news.

A Dutch survey conducted on 215 journalists and bloggers by ANP Pers Support, Marketingfacts, LEWIS PR and Stichting One indicated that more than half of them have a Twitter account. The study also determined that search engines, mainly Google of course, is also often used to searching for news. 82 % of the respondents use Google precisely for this reason. 99% of the journalists and bloggers use Google to find background information.

Journalists also use bloggers to promote their own writing: 83% do this. Yet journalists still seem to attach much value to classic press releases and four out of five expect “that the press release won’t disappear from the media landscape”. We have known for a while now that search engines are used as sources of background information. This is in any case good news for companies: they are now certain that it is worthwhile to blog, tweet and to work on their SEO and online PR to get in the “media”.

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