Reporters and Bloggers: The Real Story

Although I still run into people who think bloggers are just guys sitting around in their mother’s basements posting their rants in between games of Dungeons and Dragons, studies continue to show that the blogger demographic is more educated, more knowledgeable, and more relevant to our everyday lives than ever before.

As Mark Cuban learned a few months ago, an increasing number of reporters are blogging today. In fact, according to a study by the The Bivings Group, a full 95% of the top 100 US newspapers now offer reporter blogs (up from 80% in 2006), while 58% of the top 100 magazines provide blogs.

And, it’s not just blogs helping people voice their opinions, it’s the comments on the blogs. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading debates and discussions in the comments here and have used other Blog’s comments sections to drive site traffic.

We all know that bloggers break stories these days — from Rathergate, which led to Dan Rather’s early retirement from CBS to the Albert Gonzales scandal, bloggers are at the forefront. And, certainly in January Target learned that major media follow the lead of bloggers. But, a recent study indicates that reporters use blogs less as a news source and more as a way to connect with readers and check up on competition.

In a survey of US journalists by PR WeekPR Newswire and Millward Brown, 57.7% of respondents said they used blogs to measure sentiment, 51% used them to gauge how their competitors were covering stories, and 38.7% of respondents used blogs as a mechanism to dig up sources.

Nearly 40% of journalists scouring blogs for story ideas is still quite significant. And, based on my conversations with reporters and my study of story timelines (from boards to blogs to major media), I think those numbers are low. Bottom line, blogs, micro-blogging, social bookmarking and really all social media is still in its infancy and I think we are only just beginning to see the total impact this will have on our clients, our audiences and our profession.

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