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How Journalists Use Media To Find Stories and Information

Not surprisingly, all journalists surveyed (100 percent) say they rely on the Internet to help get their job done.

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“In an era exploding with user-generated content, social media, and Web 2.0, it’s important for those in business-to-business communications to understand how journalists are using technology when it comes to reporting news,” said Mike Neumeier, principal of Arketi Group, an integrated marketing and PR company.

Technology Tools Used by Reporters

Not surprisingly, all those surveyed (100 percent) say they rely on the Internet to help get their job done. One-quarter (25 percent) of journalists say blogs make their job easier, while 18 percent say instant messaging makes their job easier.

Ninety-seven percent of journalists surveyed say they enjoy using new technologies. And nearly one-third of journalists (30 percent) say they use some type of instant messenger for professional communication.

Sixty percent of journalists say they spend more than 20 hours a week on the Internet. When asked how journalists use the Internet:

  • 98 percent say reading news
  • 97 percent say emailing
  • 93 percent say finding news sources
  • 89 percent say finding story ideas
  • 72 percent say reading blogs
  • 67 percent say watching webinars or webcasts
“Clearly this survey shows that business journalists are embracing user-generated content like blogs, webinars and webcasts as useful in their day-to-day reporting,” said Dr. Kaye Sweetser, APR, assistant professor of public relations at the University of Georgia’s Grady College. “Savvy companies know this and are looking for ways to legitimately increase their participation in creating and growing online content using Web 2.0 methods.”

Finding Story Ideas

Ninety percent of journalists say they turn to industry sources for story ideas, an equal number (90 percent) get story ideas from news releases and a nearly equal number (89 percent) say they tap into public relations contacts.

Communications and green marketing for sustainable business More than three out of four journalists (79 percent) report finding story ideas on newswires, while 74 percent say from Web sites, 72 percent say from other media outlets and 54 percent report blogs spark story ideas.

All journalists surveyed (100 percent) said they prefer working with known sources via email, while 91 percent prefer telephone and 77 percent say in-person. Interestingly one-quarter (25 percent) say they prefer instant messaging with known sources. When it comes to working with unknown sources, nearly all journalists surveyed (98 percent) say they prefer emails. Eighty percent say phone contact with an unknown source is acceptable.

Almost all journalists (98 percent) say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they know, and 93 percent of business journalists say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they don’t know but are in industries they cover.

All journalists responding (100 percent) said they viewed information offered online by business news organizations like the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Bloomberg as credible, and 92 percent said they viewed information reported online by national news organizations like the national TV networks, wire services and newspapers as credible.

Others sources of credible online information according to those journalists surveyed included:

  • International organizations (89 percent)
  • Government agencies (85 percent)
  • Corporate websites (85 percent)
  • PR professionals (77 percent)
  • Activist websites (41 percent)
  • Blogs (41 percent)
  • Politicians (35 percent)
  • Chat, message boards (18 percent)
In a trend that continues to blur the line between print and online media, an overwhelming majority of journalists (92 percent) say their online publication is allowed to “scoop” their print publication. When it comes to reporting, journalists surveyed wrote primarily for a print publication, but the majority also contributes to their organization’s Web site (68 percent).

Media’s Use of Corporate Web Sites

Corporate Web sites make a difference in how business journalists view an organization. Eighty-five percent of journalists say companies without an Internet Web site are less credible.

Illustrating the need for companies to constantly keep news and information up to date on their Web sites, the majority of journalists (41 percent) say when they report on breaking news and cannot reach a primary source at the organization, they visit the organization’s Web site. Industry experts, other interested parties, company blogs, industry Web sites and industry blogs serve as journalists’ secondary sources.

“Helping organizations participate in industry-focused conversation is a cornerstone of public relations and today we have more tools than ever before to do just that,” points out Neumeier. “Organizations not taking advantage of these tools are going to be at a great communications disadvantage in the coming years because, like the Internet, these tools are not going away.”

According to journalists, the most useful information on a corporate Web site is contact information (97 percent), search capabilities (95 percent), press room/press kits (92 percent), company backgrounders (89 percent) and publication-quality graphics or photos (66 percent).

Journalists and Corporate Ethics

Journalists are split on the ethical question of an employer that disciplines an employee for posting negative comments about the organization on a public blog. One-third (33 percent) of journalists believe it is ethical, 32 percent say it is unethical and 36 percent are uncertain.

What journalists are certain about is the right of employers to monitor public blogs. A majority of journalists surveyed (58 percent) agree or strongly agree that it is ethical for organizations to monitor public blogs for employee posts.

About the Survey

The 2007 Arketi Web Watch Survey seeks to understand the opinions of business-to-business journalists and their use of technology. Seventy-two percent of respondents have been in the field of journalism for 11 or more years with 41 percent reporting they have been a journalist for more than 20 years. Some of the industries covered by the journalists surveyed include accounting, automotive, business and professional services, technology, construction, engineering, finance/banking, government, healthcare, human resources and legal. The online survey of 61 journalists was conducted during the summer of 2007 and is sponsored by Arketi Group,

About Arketi Group

Atlanta-based Arketi Group, an integrated marketing and public relations consultancy, helps business-to-business technology organizations generate revenue and accelerate growth through intelligent strategy, public relations, messaging, branding and demand generation. Arketi crafts and delivers compelling messages that resonate with the market, then works to create an environment where the sales force has what it needs to sell. Arketi clients include Cbeyond, FOCUS LLC, Georgia Tech Research Institute, IBT Enterprises, Oversight Systems, Procuri, and Visiprise. For more information, call 404-929-0091 ext. 210 or visit

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| media | green marketing | messaging |


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