Journalism and social media whitepaper

Daryl Willcox publishing has today released a whitepaper about how journalists have adapted to the rise of social media over the last five years, which I wrote for them.

The report is aimed largely at an audience of PR professionals who want an insight into how journalists think about social media, and it is being published alongside a survey about how journalists use social media. I must say some of the findings of that survey surprise me:

out of the 922 956 journalists surveyed, over 200 made additional comments – some scathing, slamming social media as a pointless communication channel to manage, and some pointing to the fact they are now dependent on these websites as news sources.

Other findings of the survey were less surprising:

The survey also found that little more than one per cent of respondents claimed they were using social media less than they were 12 months ago, confirmation that journalists reject the notion that social media may be a fad.

One of the great frustrations of working on this project has been that the topic is so fast moving that the paper is inevitably out of date already. In the few weeks since I finished writing this, there has been quite a lot of additional information and new examples that I would have loved to include:

There have also been some interesting case studies in journalists’ use of social media, most notably the critical role of New York Times journalist Brian Stelter’s (re-)tweeting in breaking the story of Osama bin Laden on Twitter. In Britain, we have seen Twitter play an central role in the debate about privacy injunctions.

Somewhat less dramatically, Stefanie Gordon’s images of the Space Shuttle Endeavour provided an excellent case study of how images published on social media sites rapidly becomes incorporated into news organisations’ output.

Inevitably, the best way to keep up to speed with developments in social media and journalism is by participating in the link sharing communities that social networking sites enable. So here’s one place to start: my feed of social media and journalism links.

New York Times: Storify Collects Strands of News on the Social Web

"Storify ... is one of several Web start-ups — including Storyful, Tumblr and Color — that are developing ways to help journalists and others sift through the explosion of online content and publish the most relevant information. Investors are also betting there is a market for filtering the social Web for high-quality posts. Khosla Ventures has invested $2 million in Storify."

New York Times: Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter

"Lee Rainie, director of the Internet and American Life Project, says that blogging is not so much dying as shifting with the times. Entrepreneurs have taken some of the features popularized by blogging and weaved them into other kinds of services. ... The blurring of lines is readily apparent among users of Tumblr. Although Tumblr calls itself a blogging service, many of its users are unaware of the description and do not consider themselves bloggers — raising the possibility that the decline in blogging by the younger generation is merely a semantic issue."