2014 Study impact of Social Media on News: more crowd-checking, less fact-checking

The Social Media Impact (#SMING14) survey conducted by ING among an international group of journalists and PR professionals shows that dialogue on social media is gaining importance. Journalists widely use social media posts despite having doubts about their reliability. At the same time PR professionals believe that news is becoming less reliable as journalists do less fact-checking.

The ING survey also revealed that a majority of journalists feel less bound by journalistic rules on social media. Social media are increasingly being used as a means of engaging in dialogue, although Dutch PR professionals lag behind their international peers in this respect.

In line with ING's ambition to be at the forefront of developments in social media, ING in 2012 concluded its first study into social media use by journalists and PR professionals. The survey showed that social media have revolutionised the media landscape. In 2014, the study into the role of social media among PR professionals and journalists has been repeated with the aim of gaining an insight into the impact of social media on the activities of PR professionals and journalists and how they have influenced the news and the way news is disseminated.

The Social Media Impact survey was conducted by ING among an international group of journalists and PR professionals to establish to what extent there are differences in the way countries make use of social media.

The highlights from this report

This report provides an insight into the following questions:

  • To what extent are social media seen as reliable?
  • To what extent is public opinion via social media used in publishing news?
  • To what extent do journalists undertake fact-checking and crowd-checking?
  • To what extent do journalists act differently in traditional media and social media?
  • To what extent do Dutch PR professionals use social media differently from international PR professionals?
  • What are the expectations of PR professionals and journalists with regard to social media?

The 5 main insights at a glance

  1. One-third of journalists said social media posts are not a reliable source of information. Despite this, half of journalists said social media were their main source of information.
  2. Remarkably, half of journalists said they consider consumer opinion to be more reliable than a statement by an organisation. Journalists use social media to find out what people are talking about and when writing articles, but do not always check whether public opinion is based on facts.
  3. Fact-checking has become less thorough; ‘publish first, correct if necessary’ is the motto these days. Only 20% of journalists always check their facts before publishing. Almost half of journalists said they published most of their stories as quickly as possible to correct later if necessary. PR professionals also noted that since the arrival of social media journalists are getting in contact less frequently to check facts.
  4. Journalists (60%) said they feel less bound by journalistic rules on social media than with traditional media such as a newspaper article. They act differently on social media than in traditional media, sharing their personal opinion more openly on social media, despite the fact that journalists are seen as being objective and reporters of news facts relating to events of general importance.
  5. Dutch PR professionals are lagging behind compared to their international counterparts. In the Netherlands the focus lies on sending out news, while internationally more attention is devoted to dialogue and direct contact with journalists and consumers via social media.

The 5 main expectations for the future

  1. Journalists expect less fact-checking to be done in the future. Conversely the role of crowd-checking, whereby the public’s opinion is used and accepted as being true, will grow in importance.
  2. User-generated content, such as tweets and pictures or videos from bystanders, is already widely used in news and is expected to grow further.
  3. Dutch PR professionals will stage a catch-up as they reduce their focus on sending out releases and concentrate more on engaging in dialogue and building relations.
  4. Journalists expect journalism to be driven by clicks and views more than by content.
  5. PR professionals expect their contact with consumers to intensify with increasingly less involvement of journalists, now that they have the ability to approach the target group directly and engage in dialogue with them.

Publish first, correct later if necessary

With 45% of journalists putting out 60% to 100% of what they publish as soon as possible – without checking facts – and correct later if necessary, “publish first and correct later” seems to be the new motto.

Only 20% always check the facts before publishing. 52% of PR professionals said that since the arrival of social media journalists seek contact less frequently to check facts. 52% of PR professionals said that since the arrival of social media journalists get in contact less frequently to check the facts

Less bound by journalistic rules

Journalists act differently on social media compared to the way they report through traditional news channels. 67% of journalists said they express themselves differently on social media, sharing their personal opinion more openly on social media, despite the fact that journalists are seen as being objective and reporters of news facts relating to events of general importance.

As many as 60% of journalists agreed with the statement ‘On social media I am less bound by journalistic rules than in traditional media’.

Other interesting facts & figures about PR Professionals & Social Media

Our survey also provides insights about the social media views and social media usage by PR professionals and the impact social media has in their daily work.

Social media usage PR professionals:

  • 85% of PR professionals use social media on a daily basis. The Dutch are most active, with 90% of respondents saying they use social media every day. PR professionals are active on social media throughout the day, mainly from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. Activity levels are lower in late evenings and early mornings.

Impact social media on daily work PR professionals:

  • 81% of PR professionals believe that PR can no longer operate without social media.
  • 78% of PR professionals consider social media to be important to the performance of their daily work.
  • 55% of PR professionals are unable to perform their duties without social media. A quarter of respondents said they can work without social media.

Views PR professionals on impact social media:

  • 64% of PR professionals consider social media to be more superficial, with traditional media offering more scope for depth.
  • 81% of PR professionals consider that social media have a more rapid impact than traditional media.
  • 56% of PR professionals consider that social media have reduced the importance of traditional media.

Other interesting facts & figures about Journalists & Social Media

Social media usage by journalists:

  • 78% of journalists use social media on a daily basis. The Dutch are most active, with 87% of respondents saying they use social media every day.
  • Twitter (90%), Facebook (81%) and LinkedIn (64%) are used most for business.
  • Like PR professionals, journalists are active on social media throughout the day, mainly from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. Activity levels are lower in late evenings and early mornings.
  • Journalists are making more active use of social media to pressure organisations or to raise issues. Last year 43% of journalists used social media for these purposes, in 2014 this has risen to 57%.
  • 73% of journalists approach the target group with publications on a weekly basis.
  • 48% use social media to draw attention to 60 to 100% of their publications over longer periods of time.
  • 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals.
  • 63% of journalists use social media on a weekly basis to maintain relations with relevant stakeholders.
  • 59% are in weekly contact with employees and/or board members of organisations.

Impact social media on daily work journalists:

  • 72% of journalists consider social media to be important to the performance of their daily work.
  • 56% of journalists are no longer able to perform their duties without social media. A quarter of journalists said they are able to work without social media.
  • 68% of journalists believe that journalism can no longer operate without social media.

Infographic Impact of Social Media

Last modified: 19 June 2014

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