PR Newswire Asia Releases First-ever Report on the Work-related Use of Social Media by Chinese Journalists

2010-12-14 22:39 2443

BEIJING, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire-Asia/ --

-- Over 60% of journalists have used social media to obtain news leads or conduct an interview in order to complete a news report

-- 47.7% of journalists indicate that they "regularly use" microblogs

-- Over 60% of journalists believe that Chinese enterprises should make more use of blogs and microblogs for brand promotion


The continued growth of social media has opened up an abundance of new channels through which journalists can obtain information in the course of their work. Intensely real-time and interactive by nature, social media frees journalists from their dependence on telephone, email, and other conventional methods of obtaining information, but at the same time, the fragmented sea of information made available by social media has also brought about many new challenges for journalists. Over 60% of journalists have used social media to obtain news leads or conduct an interview in order to complete a news report, and 47.7% of journalists indicate that they "regularly use" microblogs. In the age of mass media and user-generated content the social media era – the majority of people are no longer merely passive information receptacles. At this juncture, what is influencing the way that media journalists receive and obtain information in the course of their day-to-day work?

From October 22nd to November 7th, PR Newswire Asia conducted a survey on the work-related use of social media by Chinese journalists. This report includes an analysis of 2,503 true and valid journalist questionnaires. Additionally, this analytical research report is the world's first report to examine how Chinese journalists are accustomed to using social media in the course of their work.

The report revealed that journalists and editors who conduct top-tier news coverage and editing work on a daily basis made up the greatest number of surveyed participants, as well as the highest percentage at 71.5%; traditional print and television broadcast media journalists made up over 60%, and the majority (67.48%) of surveyed journalists were between 23 and 30 years of age. Journalists born after 1980 already make up the backbone of the workforce that handles top-tier news reporting work on a daily basis. Over 80% of surveyed journalists had worked in the field for more than two years, while the proportion of those journalists with over five years of experience was over 40%.

A chart showing the various channels through which journalists engaged in different types of media usually to obtain story leads.

-- Internet media journalists were far more likely in the course of their work to use social media channels such as microblogs, blogs, social networking websites, chat clients, community forums, and encyclopedia websites at a rate far higher than journalists engaged in traditional print media and television broadcast media.

The report revealed that face to face / peer communications, visiting user portal websites / industry websites and using search engines to obtain story leads remain the main channels to search for news leads utilized by Chinese journalists on the job. Telephone, email, and Instant Messenger remained frequently used by journalists on the job. However, social media channels such as encyclopedia websites, internet forums, blogs, and microblogs have opened up a great number of sources from which journalists may obtain information useful for their work, and in the long term are having a greater and greater influence on the methods and habits of journalists' work.

Use of social networking sites, video websites, and RSS news feeds by Chinese journalists for work purposes was lowest. This represents a stark contrast with American journalists, a large percentage of whom use Facebook, YouTube, and RSS news feeds for work purposes. One interesting finding: the use of encyclopedia websites by journalists for work purposes came in after telephone and email, but was far above community forums, blogs, and other "traditional" Web 2.0 new media channels at #7.    

"When I'm choosing something to write about, if it's a hot topic I will often look for advice from netizens, on microblogs or Tianya BBS, or use a search engine to look up some information, and sometimes I will look up technical terms or background information on encyclopedia websites." -- Niu Siyuan, Reporter for the Economics Section of the Southern Daily

The survey also showed that 32.6% of broadcast television media journalists used video websites for work, which was more than twice the rate of print media journalists (14%). This is due in large part to the unique characteristics of the two different types of media.

"For work, I usually use Google, Sina microblogs and, and I'll often use Baidu video search as well. Besides those, there's also the sources on our own CBN internal platform." -- Ning Guoqiang, CBN Television Reporter

-- Over 90% of journalists believe that news leads originating from social media have some value. Over sixty percent of journalists reported that they had used social media to obtain news leads or conduct an interview in order to complete a news report.

When asked, "If a news lead was obtained through social media, would you seek verification before choosing to report it?" Over half (51.66%) of journalists indicated that they would "always seek verification." However, the survey also revealed that journalists considered the authority and trustworthiness of the identity of the information's "producer" and "disseminator" an important factor in whether they would seek to verify the news lead.

"Social media channels have revolutionized the work of journalists. In the past, journalists were often the first to discover and publish new information, and now, social media has taken over this role from journalists, making it imperative for journalists to become more serious about organizing information well and digging deeper." -- Ji Yongqing, former chief reporter for CEO&CIO Magazine, Famous Chinese Columnist.

When asked, "What Chinese microblog platforms do you use most frequently?" 77.79% of journalists chose "Sina microblogs," which came in far above "Tencent microblogs," with 23.53%; behind these two were "Sohu microblogs," with 12.11% and "NetEase microblogs" with 10.67%.

47.7% of journalists indicated that they "frequently use" microblogs, and of them, 26.1% indicated that they "use them every day." The survey revealed that the reason media journalists utilize microblogs is most likely to search for valuable information and interactive exchange.

"What I use most frequently these days, and what seems to me to be the most game-changing and uniquely valuable of all, are microblogs. When I was doing a cover story entitled 'The Imitator' for the China Internet Weekly, I needed to interview a few experts in the field about the topic of the lack of creativity on China's internet, but I was on a tight deadline, and time was very valuable to these experts, I was often unable to get through to them by phone. After a while I thought of microblogs, and I found several extremely active experts in the field on microblogs. I was then able to get in touch with them very quickly by sending them private messages and complete interviews without a hitch. By allowing people to engage in direct dialogues with big names in the field, microblogs have become one of the best ways the media can obtain informational resources and find potential interviewees for hot topic stories." -- Liu Jia, Senior Reporter, China Internet Weekly

-- What social media channels should enterprises use to carry out brand promotion more effectively?

Some advice was offered by professional journalists: the highest number of journalists believed that enterprises should make more use of blog and microblog platforms for brand promotion; journalists indicated that they "for the most part" or "completely" recognized the merits of each, at a rate of over 60%. Almost 60% (57.7%) of journalists indicated they would "follow over the long term" enterprise or organization microblogs that were related to industry sectors they were in charge of covering. Of those journalists, 14.3% indicated they would follow microblogs over the long term and try to make contact. Only 2% of surveyed journalists indicated that they did not follow blogs or microblogs.

"Social media channels have caused the channels through which journalists obtain information to become more broad, and also more fragmented. Journalists can use social media to reach right to the heart of the issues (people, ideas), and enterprises need to transform their sales strategies from traditional hard advertising to realizing and appreciating the value of fans, from the old sales model of winning over customers one by one, to a new model that targets social communities and groups for information dissemination. Chinese companies need, now more than ever, to establish clear social media strategies and tactics, to utilize the tools of these platforms and the demands for information dissemination and realize their seamless integration." -- Tang Xingtong, Renown Chinese Social Media Sales Expert

Regarding portal websites frequently visited by journalists, the survey revealed that Sina received the highest level of support (76.75%), followed by Tencent (51.82%), with NetEase and Sohu winning similar percentages of support, 38.31% and 35.88% respectively.

In PR Newswire's 2009 survey of Chinese journalists, the favorability ratings of most-visited portal websites as determined by a poll of journalists were: Sina (36.32%), Sohu (23.50%), NetEase (19.33%), and Tencent (16.91%). A comparison of results reveals, as the sample size of the survey was greatly increased, Tencent and Sohu changed places in the journalist-determined rankings, with Tencent moving from its last-place ranking last year to second place this year, receiving a higher than 50% approval rating from journalists, while Sohu dropped from last year's second place to this year's last place. NetEase maintained a steady level of support by journalists, showing some increase, while Sina maintained its relatively large lead over the others for two consecutive years.

Finally, as revealed by the survey conducted on the influence of new media, almost half of Chinese journalists believed that, "new media will pose a fairly large threat to traditional media," while almost half also indicated, "new media has a definite influence on traditional media, and the two types of media complement each other well." Only 3.16% of journalists believed that, "new media will completely replace traditional media," while 3.84% of journalists expressed the opinion that it "had no influence."

Source: PR Newswire Asia