NEW YORK: Nearly one-quarter of all journalists surveyed in a
recent nationwide study said they would consider reporting rumors
obtained via Web chatrooms or online news groups - even without
verification from an outside source. And 2% admitted they have used Web
chat and other online forums as a primary source for a news story.
These are just two of the more surprising findings from a study released
last week by Middleberg Euro RSCG and Columbia University Graduate
School of Journalism associate professor Steve Ross, which surveyed more
than 4,000 print and broadcast journalists across the country about
their online habits and use of the Internet.
'Because of budgetary and time constraints today, it's obvious that
journalistic standards have lessened from the days of jumping through
hoops to verify information with multiple sources,' said Middleberg
chairman and CEO Don Middleberg, who has conducted the survey every year
since 1995. 'Even if reported and clearly labeled as 'rumor,' stories in
the media are seen as fact. That means we as PR professionals had better
be more vigilant and proactive than ever before.'
In addition to the use of Web information for sources of news,
respondents indicated that e-mail is increasingly used to segment
sources by priority.
Specifically, nearly 12% of the reporters surveyed said they have six or
more e-mail addresses for receiving incoming communications.
'Obviously, it would seem that just getting a reporter's e-mail address
is no longer enough; now you have to make sure you have the tier-one
address to get through,' said Middleberg.
Among other interesting findings: only 45% said their media outlets
would not allow its Web site to scoop the print or broadcast side for
news; interaction between reporters and readers has increased by about
16% over last year, with nearly 70% of 2001 respondents saying they
regularly engage in dialogue with readers via e-mail and online
discussion groups; and, as in years past, journalists lag behind other
business users of the Internet in terms of information technology.
Specifically, only 32% of respondents said their media organizations are
preparing to receive higher Web bandwidth (68% said they were not), and
only 8% use PDA devices in their jobs. And even though 98% of
respondents go online at least once a day for their jobs, 71% said they
lacked training in computer-assisted research and reporting.
A full report on the results of this study is available free to
journalists and students, and for a fee of dollars 195 to others, by
calling (212) 888-6610 or e-mailing email@example.com.