Saturday, April 15, 2006

Journalists, Journalism, News, and Blogs

Below is a brief excerp from the recent research that I conducted with Dr. Gerald Kosicki on how blogosphere transforms news, as well as our understanding of journalism and journalists. Here we summarize results from several reputable and extremely interesting surveys of msm professionals.

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Three recent surveys demonstrated that journalists extensively used blogs and that the blogosphere impacted how journalists do their work. A 2005 survey of 300 U.S. journalists conducted by the University of Connecticut showed that 83% of television and newspaper journalists used blogs and 55% of these journalists used blogs to support their news-writing activities (The University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy, 2005). In another nationwide poll of 673 media owners, editors, producers, and staff reporters, Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2005 found that 20% of journalists read blogs almost every day (The Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2005). Similarly, in June 2005 Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University released results of their worldwide poll of 1,202 journalists, which showed that 51% of journalists used weblogs regularly (Euro RSCG Magnet, 2005). More than half (53%) of journalists who used blogs said they did so to find story ideas, 43% used blogs for researching and referencing facts, 36% for finding sources, and 33% for uncovering breaking news or scandals (Euro RSCG Magnet, 2005).

At the same time, the UCONN survey showed that only 13% of surveyed reporters considered bloggers to be journalists and only 11% rated news content found on blogs as excellent or good, while 41% rated it as fair and 32% as poor (The University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy, 2005). Similarly 81% of journalists in the Princeton survey said that news bloggers were journalists "to a small extent" (The Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2005) or were not journalists at all. The RSCG study also provided evidence of some disdain expressed by traditional journalists towards blogs. The survey showed that despite the fact that more than half of all journalists used blogs, only 1% of journalists considered blogs to be credible (Euro RSCG Magnet, 2005).

The surveys showed, however, that despite some negative attitude towards the blogosphere, journalists felt that their profession was transforming because of blogs. In the UCONN study, 90% of journalists said that the emergence of blogs impacted the journalism profession at least a little (The University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy, 2005). In the Princeton study, 45% of journalists said that bloggers' impact on the quality of news was generally positive, while 38% said it was negative. More specifically, 51% felt that blogosphere made journalists more accountable (The Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2005). The results of the three polls showed that journalists are embracing the idea of blogs as a new medium at least to some degree. The results also provide some support for the argument that the blogosphere has already affected journalists and journalism.
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Sources:
Euro RSCG Magnet. (2005). Great thoughts: Turning information into knowledge. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from http://www.magnet.com/index.php?s=_thought .
The Annenberg Public Policy Center. (2005). About one American in four considers Rush Limbaugh a journalist, roughly the same share as identity Bob Woodward that way, according to Annenberg Public Policy Center Survey. Retrieved February 25, 2006, from
http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/naes/2005_06_JournalistsSurvey.pdf .
The University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy. (2005). National polls of journalists and the American public on First Amendment and the media. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from
http://www.uconn.edu/newsmedia/2005/may05/rel05033.html .

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