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PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey Finds Digital Divide Between Journalists and Bloggers

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On April 1, 2010, PRWeek and PR Newswire issued a press release ... that was no joke. It highlighted the key findings of the "2010 PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey."

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The survey, sponsored by PR Newswire, polled a total of 1,568 traditional and non-traditional media and, for the first time, 1,670 PR practitioners. In cooperation with CNW Group, the survey also included Canadian media and professionals.

Building on prior surveys from 2008 and 2009, the study gauged the attitudes and ideas of traditional journalists and bloggers, as well as PR professionals, to gain an understanding of the present state of the media profession and the trends that are continuing to shape the industry.

Most of the news coverage of the media survey focused on the finding that 52 percent of bloggers now view themselves as journalists. This is a marked increase from 2009 when just one in three had the same opinion. Yet, despite viewing themselves as professional, only 20 percent derive the majority of their income from their blog work; a 4 percent increase from 2009.

Among the total respondents, the use of blogs and social networks for research increased significantly in 2010 as compared to 2009. However this spike appears to be skewed by online magazine/news reporters and bloggers. While 91 percent of bloggers and 68 percent of online reporters "always" or "sometimes" use blogs for research, only 35 percent of newspaper and 38 percent of print magazine journalists followed suit.

This divergence was also seen when using social networks for research. Overall, 33 percent of respondents indicated using such news sources, but 48 percent of bloggers used social networks, compared to just 31 percent of newspaper reporters and 27 percent of print magazine reporters.

This contrast was even sharper when considering Twitter. On the one hand, 64 percent of bloggers and 36 percent of online reporters employ Twitter as a research tool. On the other hand, 19 percent of newspaper reporters and 17 percent of print magazine reporters use Twitter for research.

Just 19 percent of newspaper and 22 percent of print magazine reporters have used a Twitter post in a story. This is differs sharply from 55 percent of bloggers, 42 percent of online magazine/news, and even 48 percent of TV news reporters that have used a Twitter post in a story.

The prevalence of social and consumer-generated media has led to several changes in the way that PR practitioners view and engage the press. Although 74 percent of PR professionals still consider email to be the most effective means for pitching journalists, 43 percent of journalists report having being pitched through social networks compared to 31 percent in 2009.

Higher success rates may be a reason behind the increase. In both the US and Canada, pitches through a social network resulted in coverage approximately 70 percent of the time. In contrast, the standard pitch to a US or Canadian journalist rarely leads to coverage, with 66 percent pegging the success rate at 0-20 percent.

In the press release, Sarah Skerik, vice president of Social Media for PR Newswire, said, "Clearly, job security and fiscal solvency continue to cast a shadow over the industry. However, the rapid growth of online reporting and the continued adoption of social media make it possible to find and connect with audiences online, presenting journalists and communicators with many new opportunities. However, this still remains a time of flux, and that sentiment is apparent in some of the diverging views between traditional and online media and the media and PR community."

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