I have had a chance to review an interesting study released yesterday by Brodeur and Marketwire. The study asked that cover the beats of technology, travel, health care, lifestyle, and politics to assess the impact of social media on five factors – speed, diversity, editorial direction, quality, and accuracy.
It was a very mixed result.
Over all, reporters felt that social media had a positive effect on diversity of reporting and editorial direction, while feeling that it came at the price of quality, accuracy and tone – to which they felt it had a negative effect.
Political reporters (77%) and lifestyle reporters (53%) were most likely to feel that social media had a negative impact on the tone of coverage in their area. Given the extreme negativity in those segments, it is not surprising.
Over half of reporters from all five “beats”say they spend more than one hour per day reading blogsand online news sources. Political reporters were the more active online information consumers; travel reporters the least. 47% of technology reporters and 38% of political reporters said that they blog as part of their reporting and lifestyle reporters were most likely to have a personal blog.
Who Are the Media Reading?
And more importantly, who do they find credible?
The study asked journalists to evaluate some of the most popular blogs and social media news sites in their respective field, but it wasn't cut and dried. Many reporters frequented sites to which they don't assigning much credibility.
In the Lifestyle reporting, Perez Hilton scored dead last in credibility among the ten lifestyle sites tested, even though it was the second most visited site. The most popular were Perez Hilton, and MSN Lifestyle and the most credible were MSN Lifestyle, AOL Living, and TMZ.
Of the ten sites tested among political reporters, the most popular were Huffington Post, Real Clear Politics, Talking Points Memo, and Daily Kos, with teh most credible being the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos. Real Clear Politics and Talking Points Memo scored highest among political journalists in the category of “very credible” content.
Tech reporters ranked Engadget, Gizmodo, and Boing Boing as most popular. But they rated Arstechnica, GigaOm, and Engadget as most credible, with GigaOm scoring the highest at 45% saying its content was “very credible.”
Travel journalists rated Tripadvisor and Frommers as the most frequented by journalists. Very few of the top 10 sites tested were visited on a daily or weekly basis. When it came to credibility of the content, Frommers topped the list; however journalists also gave high scores to Forbes Traveler and Travel Channel – higher scores than the more frequented Yahoo! Travel and Tripadvisor.
Health care journalists rated the NIH, WebMD, Mayo Clinic and MSN Health as the top sites they followed. NIH and Mayo were, by far, viewed as the most credible of all sources of health care information, followed by WebMD and MSN Health.
The Brodeur study consisted of five online surveys taken between April 2 and April 18, 2008. Email invitations were issued to a random sample of reporters in North
America from five different beats — technology, travel, health care, lifestyle, and politics. Approximately 3,500 email invitations were issued per “beat” with total completed respondents: technology (n=101); lifestyle (n=92); health care (n=119); travel (n=70); politics (n=69).