Survey of the Journalist’s World: What They Want, How They Want It, and What Causes Them Pain

Ever wonder what’s on the mind of the media?  As the rise of the citizen journalist and the age of editorial marketing collides with the Fourth Estate, what does a reporter need today to be successful in an information-intensive world?

To answer these questions, and others, Bliss Integrated Communication, with the help of market research firm Market Measurement, conducted a survey of 100 journalists nationwide, across all media channels—print, digital, broadcast—and personally interviewed another 25 more. We aimed to get at the heart of how journalists think about their job, whether public relations firms hurt or hinder their work when time is of essence, what is missing from media pitches, and what their feelings are on the future of journalism as a whole.

As sources of information continue  to expand and as distribution channels become more vast and varied, journalists find themselves vying for the reader’s and viewer’s attention. This is one of the top challenges facing journalists according to the 2012 Survey of the Journalist’s World: What They Want, How They Want It, and What Causes Them Pain.

The survey uncovers that journalists now must exhibit flexibility across media channels. With increased use of the internet to access news, most journalists are responsible for providing content to multiple distribution channels such as web, video and social media. 62% of journalists are responsible for three to five channels while only 10% are responsible for one. On the topic of bloggers and citizen journalists, most journalists (52%) report that they have a positive impact on the fourth estate overall. Interestingly, of those who reported that bloggers and citizen journalists have a negative impact, the majority were TV, radio and podcast journalists.

Other findings include:

  • Most journalists prefer to get the full story. Despite the pressure to be first to break a story in the 24-hour news cycle, most journalists (60%) prefer to get thoroughly vetted statistics rather than preliminary data. Perhaps due to the increase in visual media, 84% of journalists report that infographics which illustrate data are moderately to highly valuable.
  • Fewer journalists are interested in receiving possible story suggestions. 50% of journalists prefer to receive information and data only as opposed to 35% who prefer to get suggestions for how data could fit into a story. Moreover, 69% of journalists prefer to have sources send stories and information only if they are sure that it is relevant to the reporter.
  • Story distribution equals success. When measuring the impact of their stories, most journalists (60%) look for either additional media pick-ups or click-throughs, while 58% of journalists report that having sources drive traffic to their stories is highly valuable.
  • The future of journalism is uncertain. When asked their opinion on the future viability of journalism as a career, only 29% reported that they were very optimistic. The majority (44%) were somewhat optimistic while 18% were somewhat pessimistic and 9% were very pessimistic.

There is often a perceived disconnect between public relations agencies and their ability to not only align marketing goals with strategic business objectives but also to garner media hits that translate into significant business results.  With our finger on the pulse of what news-gatherers think and need to do their job effectively, we are better positioned to help our clients become thought leaders in their markets.

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Toddi Gutner