Misinformation in social media, pressure to produce more unique content with fewer staff and learning new digital skills and were among the top issues identified by journalists across Australia in a survey by press release distribution firm Newsmaker.
The Newsmaker Australian Media Survey asked 412 journalists about the challenges they face in the digital media era and their views on best practice, press releases and social media.
It found 40 per cent of journalists surveyed source stories from social media on a daily basis and 60 per cent use press releases, personal contacts and search engines.
There were mixed feelings over the benefits of social media to journalism as 66 per cent said it has made it easier for journalists to source content, but around 60 per cent felt it threatened high quality journalism.
Just two per cent of Australian journalists surveyed said they never used press releases.
The majority of journalists (66 per cent) also felt strongly that social media was decreasing journalists’ influence, while 33 per cent felt strongly that this was not the case, while most (89 per cent) said social media spreads stories more quickly to increase readership.
The journalists surveyed provided a wide variety of views on PR pitches and their greatest challenges with responses ranging from the pessimistic to the practical, Leila Henderson, CEO of Newsmaker, said.
“I am a firm believer the printed word will remain the bastion of trust and legitimate opinion. Social media is traveling a road to purgatory”, one journalist said.
Another said their biggest challenge was maintaining a social media fan base which can be monetised and developing relevant, original and creative content for them.
When asked what makes a good PR pitch, one journalist said it had to inform rather than sell to the readers.
“Lack of obvious spin or clumsy branding references, basis for claims, relevance to my readership, clear language, simple formatting. In short, does it inform my readers? = yes. Does it attempt to sell at my readers? = no,” the journalist replied.
Henderson, a social media commentator and former journalist, said the results provide a clear and frank picture that inform the media, PR and content marketing industry.
“The survey provides data and direct comments related to story research and the day-to-day challenges of reduced budgets and smaller newsrooms,” she said.
“We believe the results will pave the way for PR and related industries to develop new strategies for working with media and communicating with clients.”