Social media — you can’t live with it, you can’t live without it.
That’s the message from 255 journalists who participated in Ogilvy Media Influence’s two-part annual global survey. The reporters and editors surveyed attributed the rise of fake news to social media, but also said the medium is a vital part of the modern news environment.
The first part of the survey, released in June by the marketing communications company Ogilvy & Mather, evaluated journalists’ perspectives on new strategies adopted in an increasingly digital world. The second part examines journalists’ take on the challenges in the “fake news” era and its impact on the industry.
Jennifer Risi, worldwide Chief Communications Officer at Ogilvy, told Publishers Daily she created the survey four years ago to “understand what journalists think, and how they see the news agenda unfolding."
In the first part of the survey, reporters and editors — who cover topics such as national news, business, entertainment and politics, across North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa — identified Facebook as the No. 1 gatekeeper for news (39%), edging out legacy traditional media sources (32%) and other social networks and digital platforms like Google (15%) and Twitter (4%).
But the second part of the survey, released Wednesday, found journalists attribute the rise of fake news to social media (25%), followed by polarized media coverage (14%) and confirmation bias (14%).
Risi said the emergence of fake news has actually helped journalists “have better standards and recommit to the basics of good journalism.”
Journalists in the survey agree that better reporting (41%) — comprehensive fact-checking, citing credible sources and full transparency on the reporting process — is necessary to combat the “fake-news phenomenon.”
Despite the importance of social media in the news industry, more than half of journalists in the survey (52%) find traditional media, including newspapers, newswires and magazines, to be the most-trusted news sources.
“Most of the journalists that we uphold are from the traditional world. That’s where most of the credibility has always been and continues to be,” Risi said.
She added: “Clients and brands need the endorsement of traditional media — those are the outlets that drive conversation. If they endorse a brand, they will buy the stock or the product. Social media is important, but traditional media continues to be a major way to build brand reputation.”
The current political climate has impacted the way more than half of journalists in North America (54%) reported stories in the last 12 months, according to the survey.
“They realize we have a new type of world right now,” Risi said. “We have a president that communicates much of his policy through Twitter. Journalists have had to adjust their personal styles on how they report… Now they have to sit on their Twitter handles all day long.”
The survey also found most journalists (34%) believe digital platforms, such as live video and podcasts, present the largest growth opportunity for news organizations.