Digital media have shaken up journalism – isn’t it time brands began to think the same way? [infographic]

News that Time Magazine recently held its first Google + Hangout is a reminder, if any were needed, that news-gathering and publishing now involves far more than text, images and broadcast footage.

The growing penetration of digital media into newsrooms and editors’ offices around the world is a trend we’ve been tracking since 2008 and last week we launched our fifth annual Oriella Digital Journalism Study.

The data from this year’s study, done with our partners in the Oriella PR Network,  struck us in a few different ways.  First of all, a far wider range of content assets are being used by more publications.  All kinds of media – from national newspapers to lifestyle titles and B2B media – are using content such as infographics, videos and blogs to enhance their coverage.

Particularly striking is the adoption of video, which has shot up from 20 percent in 2011 to over 36 percent today on a worldwide basis.  Closer to home, 69 percent of the journalists we spoke to said their publications published video produced video in-house.

Meanwhile the proportion of titles that do nothing special online – other than republishing simple text and images – has fallen from a quarter four years ago to just six percent in 2012.

Social media aren’t just shaping the way publications package and deliver their stories.  They’re having a huge impact on the way newsgathering is carried out.  As a PR consultant, this is what interests me most.  Our study suggests that enthusiasm for ‘open source’ journalism has been tempered a little, while reliable contacts are more valued than ever.

More than half of our respondents (55 percent) said they use microblogs to source new stories, and 44 percent use blogs in the same way – but only when the source behind it is known or trusted by them.  For unknown sources, reliance on social media roughly halves – falling to 26 percent for microblogs and 22 percent for blogs.  However, 63 percent of respondents would source stories from industry insiders.

This preference for the ‘trusted source’ is also supported by where journalists say they go as their first point of call for news stories.  In 2011, the press release in-tray was the top starting point; this year, it had fallen to third place.  Spokespeople have become the most valued starting point for news stories, by a comfortable margin.  (See infographic below).

These trends are telling of the expectations media (and other influencers) have of brands today.  Journalists won’t accept ‘pre-packed’ news from brands (and their agencies) in the form of releases, and they are looking for far more variety in the kinds of stories brands talk about, and the way they are told.  And, they expect brands to be properly engaged with the relevant social networks: not as a box-ticking exercise driven by the PR department, but a genuine engagement at all levels of the business.

We think all brands have great stories within them – but it’s the telling which can be hard to get right.

Here’s the infographic we produced as part of this research highlighting some interesting stats from the decline of the press release to how important blogging as become to journalists (click to expand).

Digital Shoreditch 2012 - going from strength to strength in London's digital capital

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