Study says more than a quarter of UK journalists “can’t work without social media” [infographic]
Since its arrival social media has certainly changed the way journalists work, how stories are developed, and how news breaks.
It has had positive effects, without a doubt, but there are also concerns about its effect on productivity and the disruption it can have on working patterns as journalists balance the desire to stay connected with the need to switch off and get down to work.
New research highlights what many of us already know, which is that social media has created a dependency among those working in the media with more than a quarter of UK journalists saying they are unable to work without it. I’m surprised it’s only a quarter.
The 2012 social journalism study results from Cision and Canterbury Christ Church University found that despite growing journalistic dependency on social media concerns about privacy were an impediment to greater use with as many as 16% claiming social media will kill journalism.
Tom Ritchie, managing director at CisionUKsays the new study marks a change in pattern, a maturing of the social media market.
While previous studies have confirmed that social media usage is standard for UK journalists the new study highlights how it has become entrenched as part of journalistic working practices.
“It seems that sourcing information has overtaken self-promotion as their primary social activity, and I wonder if this is related to the expressed anxiety over privacy and Big Data,” says Ritchie.
The study found that while journalists are growing more sophisticated in their use of social media, and are for instance using a greater variety of tools, the study also found that journalists are less positive about some of the impacts of social media, such as on their engagement with their audience, their productivity and the quality of journalism.
No surprise, to read that by far and away the most popular tool among journalists was Twitter with 80% citing it as so. Of those, 47.9% had more than 500 followers and only 13.7% had fewer than 100 followers. No headline there, but the size of that figure possibly highlights the dependent nature and suggests many would feel cut off, isolated even, without it.
Fall in engagement
Interestingly, the number who agree that social media enables them to be more engaged with their audience fell quite sharply in the latest study and was down from 43% in 2011 to 27%. Similar views were expressed about crowdsourcing and its impact on the quality of journalism: in 2011, 33% thought it improved their journalism and 28% disagreed, while a year later those who agreed decreased to 24%, and the level of those who disagreed remained almost the same.
This year there were also fewer journalists who thought that social media improves their productivity. In 2011, almost half ofUKjournalists (49%) agreed that social media tools enhanced their productivity, but not so much this year.
In 2012 only 39% thought it helped productivity while at the same time, the percentage of those who disagreed that social media improved productivity increased from 20% to 34%.
Five types of journalist
The study identified five types of journalist: Architects (11.8%); Promoters (24.7%); Hunters (34.9%); Observers (18.8%); and the Sceptics (9.8%).
The Architects, are the movers and shakers, they are the key content contributors and spend the most time on social media. They also have better knowledge and use a range of social media regularly for a variety of purposes.
The promoters, who tend to be younger, use social media for a variety of reasons, but mostly for publishing and promoting their own content. They are also regular users of a range of social media channels and monitor discussions about their own content.
Hunters, this group tends to have most followers, and most commonly use it for sourcing information as well as for networking and building professional relationships. This group also tend to create less content, but their social media profiles are always up-to-date.
Observers as the name implies visit social networking sites less often, but at least weekly, and tend to use a narrow range of social media forms – mainly for information.
Sceptics, no surprise here to learn that this group spends the least time on social media, have the least knowledge, and contribute little. They also tend to be the oldest group of journalists.
Kristine Pole, senior lecturer in marketing at Canterbury Christ Church University says they all approach social media differently, notably in their patterns of usage, the way that they embed these tools in their work, and their attitudes towards social media.
“The largest group in theUKis the hunter (35%) who is driven to use social media for sourcing, finding contacts and networking, gives limited contributions to content but has a high number of Twitter followers. Understanding journalists’ social media habits can help media organisations run their business more effectively as well as help PR professionals understand how to successfully communicate with different types of journalists.”
The survey received over 3,650 responses from journalists in 11 different countries. This particularly report looks at the UK and is based on 769 responses collected during June and July 2012.
You can download the full: here.