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Social media ‘used as news source by 35pc’

Dubai, May 16, 2011

Of the 95 per cent of Mideast journalists who use Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks, only 35 per cent value it as a source of news, a report said.

While personal use, such as keeping in touch with family and friends, is the most popular reason for journalists’ use of social media, only 60 per cent use it as part of their daily working routine, added the MediaSource/Insight Middle East Journalist Survey 2011.

The media companies canvassed the opinions of 251 journalists working for Arabic and English-language print, broadcast and online media in 13 countries across the region, covering topics ranging from press releases, press conferences, PR practice, the sources journalists use for stories, and the current state of journalism in the region.

“While social media’s importance is recognised and its influence is growing, the message is clear to the PR industry: ‘don’t ignore the traditional sources’,” said James Mullan, joint managing partner of media training consultancy, Insight.

“On the record briefings, press releases and eyewitness accounts are all rated much higher by the region’s media as sources of news.”

Conducted every two years, the survey is designed to assist the PR industry by letting them know what pleases and what annoys journalists with the way they receive information from agencies and in-house corporate communications teams.

“This is the third time we have conducted the survey and certain interesting patterns are beginning to emerge,” Mullan continued.

“For instance, while there has been a significant upswing in the rating by journalists of PR practitioners’ professionalism, there appear to be less ‘no news’ press conferences taking place, and a better overall understanding of journalists’ needs.”

“Whether the economic downturn has forced the PR industry to sharpen up its act due to increased competition and pressure on budgets is open to debate, but journalists clearly believe they’re being served better by the regional PR industry,” he added.

There is, however, still room for improvement with ‘irrelevant’ and ‘badly targeted’ press releases still clogging up journalist’s inboxes across the Middle East, he said.

“This continues to be the ‘most irritating practice’ for both the Arabic and English media, as it was in both of our previous surveys,” said Ben Smalley, managing director of MediaSource, which publishes the Mena Media Guide and represents global PR tool Mediadisk in the region.

“The PR industry really needs to take this seriously as journalists are fed up having to trawl through material that is of absolutely no relevance to their publication or outlet. Given the tools that are currently available, there really is no excuse for adopting a ‘scattergun approach’ to press release distribution. One of our respondents summed it up well with the simple comment: ‘Photos sent to Radio!’”

Facebook is the most popular social media network with 59 per cent of Arabic and 73 per cent of English-language respondents saying their media outlets have a presence on the site, compared with just 16 per cent (Arabic) and 29 per cent (English) in 2009, the survey said.

Twitter is only used by 43 per cent of the Arabic media and 50 per cent of the English-language media, while YouTube is used by no more than a quarter of all journalists for professional purposes.

The Arabic media has a better view of its own profession with 52 per cent believing the quality of journalism in the region to be either ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’, compared with just 30 per cent of the English-language media who feel the same.

“Both our previous surveys generated a lot of discussion among PR professionals and journalists and we were invited by a number of agencies to present the findings to their staff,” said Oliver Blofeld, managing partner, Insight.

“The PR industry clearly values the opportunity to receive such honest, straightforward feedback from the region’s journalists and hopefully they are using the findings to improve the service they provide to the media,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Dubai | Survey | PR | Journalists | Insight | Social media networks | MediaSource |

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