New Study Tells Story Of Overworked Journalists And Industry In Transition

We may be living through a contentious time when some segments of the population mistrust and even hate journalists, and when opposing media ecosystems exist to serve up stories to reinforce those preferred narratives -- but a third of journalists in a new survey say audience trust is rising.

The survey, Muck Rack’s 2022 State of Journalism report, released earlier this month, paints a vivid, multilayered picture of journalism and how it interacts with the public along with other news media.

Asked whether they feel that audience trust has increased in the past year in the areas that they cover, 32% said it has. Nearly half, 47%, said it’s stayed the same. And 22% said it’s declined. This is just one of a host of eye-opening findings in the Muck Rack study, which details the ways the profession is changing.

For example, journalists have come to rely on online news sources and Twitter for their own news consumption. Fifty-seven of respondents said they go to online sources first for their news. Another 18% said they rely on Twitter. In an indication of how media consumption patterns have shifted, just 7% say they lean on print, and even fewer -- 4% -- rely on cable news.



Facebook lags even those legacy channels, with just 2% of respondents relying on that platform for news. LinkedIn and TikTok clocked in at zero.

It follows, then, that Twitter is the most valued social network for journalistic work, with 77% of respondents citing it. Here, Facebook and LinkedIn do better, with 39% saying Facebook is their most valuable social network for work and 24% naming LinkedIn. One reason: Facebook and LinkedIn might not be great news sources for professional journalists, but they’re great for verification in the case of LinkedIn, and for uncovering sometimes problematic posts on Facebook.

Sixty percent of respondents said they track their own stories on social, and 71% said the key to sharable content is connecting to something that’s trending, while the second ingredient is images and graphics.

Interestingly, only slightly more than half of the respondents said they plan to attend more in-person events this year. This seems low, since attending live events like trials, press conferences, conferences, sports events and lots more is the bread-and-butter of good reporting. The low number might be related to the ongoing pandemic. In any case, 33% said their in-person activities will be about the same as last year, and 14% said it will be less.

Meanwhile, according to the survey, the average journalist is busy. He or she covers four beats, up from last year’s three. Not surprisingly, most journalists surveyed create content in at least one medium in addition to their primary medium  -- online, print, newsletter and podcasts.

The findings come from a survey of 2,547 journalists conducted in January. Most (64%) are full-time journalists, the majority (74%) work primarily in the online medium, and most are veterans.  Eighty-eight percent of respondents have been journalists for at least six years, with 32% reporting they’ve been in the profession for 25-plus years.

You can read the whole report here.

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