NEW YORK: While the Internet may be a boon to PR pros and journalists, it has taken its toll on journalistic credibility and ethics.
NEW YORK: While the Internet may be a boon to PR pros and
journalists, it has taken its toll on journalistic credibility and
That was one key finding of the sixth annual Middleberg/Ross Print Media
in Cyberspace Study, which examines how and when journalists are using
the Internet. This year’s survey, co-authored by Middleberg + Associates
chairman and CEO Don Middleberg and Steven Ross, an associate professor
at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, was expanded to
include more information on credibility and ethical concerns.
Survey results were based on responses to a questionnaire mailed in
September to 1,509 managing and business editors at daily newspapers and
managing editors of 2,500 American magazines. The response rate was just
under 10%, with nearly 400 responses.
Sixty percent of those surveyed said that they would consider reporting
on an Internet rumor if confirmed by an independent source, while 12%
said they would not and 3% admitted to already having done so.
And while corporations may put a lot of money into developing their Web
sites, most journalists do not view them as credible sources of
When asked to rank various online sources on a five-point scale ranging
from ’not credible’ to ’highly credible,’ only trade association sites
were seen as more credible than not. The least credible sites were
message boards and chat groups.
’Lack of credibility is of some concern,’ said Middleberg. ’It says to
me that we in PR haven’t done our job as well as we might. We have to
convince journalists that sites are not marketing brochures by being
truthful conveyors of information.’
Middleberg said that one of the strongest PR benefits of the Internet is
its ability to provide immediate feedback. ’The beauty of the Internet
is that it enhances communication with journalists and answers the
biggest question CEOs and COOs always complain about, which is that you
can’t measure the impact of PR,’ said Middleberg. ’If a client goes on
CNN, we know that their site gets spikes immediately.’