If Jimmy Olsen told Clark Kent that he was going to publish a story now and then correct it later if there were errors in it, Clark Kent would be sorely disappointed in his young photojournalist colleague. And if he existed, he would perhaps be saddened at the findings from the 2014 Study impact of Social Media on News
, published by Netherlands-based bank ING this month.
The study offers a variety of insights and expectations. Some of the nuggets of information that might be the most compelling for public relations practitioners are:
• "One-third of journalists said social media posts are not a reliable source of information. Despite this half of journalists said social media were their main source of information." Okay, let me get this straight. They think the information is not reliable, yet they rely on it? All righty then.
• "Journalists (60 percent) said they feel less bound by journalistic rules on social media than with traditional media such as a newspaper article." I'm fascinated by this statistic; what leads these journalists to stray?
• "Journalists expect journalism to be driven by clicks and views more than by content." Maybe this is what we should expect with Upworthy-style headlines being so prevalent, and Buzzfeed-style listicles ruling the Web.
• "Sixty-eight percent of journalists use social media to find out what people are talking about." Now this makes sense; it's much easier now than ever before to discover what people are discussing and sharing.
• "Eighty-one percent of PR professionals believe that PR can no longer operate without social media." If you're working in an organization that discounts the impact of social media, you're in the minority.
• The most frightening statistic of all from this study? "Only 20 percent always check the facts before publishing." My former journalism professor will not be pleased when he reads this. Yikes.
But there's a bright side. ING surveyed fewer than 400 journalists and public relations practitioners, with about half of the responses coming from the Netherlands. Perhaps the sample wasn't as broad or representative as it could have been?
We can only hope.
For more on this study, see ING's infographic below.