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Blogs are not only having an impact on the speed and availability of news but also influencing the tone and editorial direction of reporting, according to a survey of US journalists by Brodeur, a unit of Omnicom Group.

New media (social media and blogs) are having an impact on many aspects of reporting, particularly the speed and availability of news, Brodeur said.

The majority of journalists said blogs were having a significant impact on news reporting in all areas tested – except news quality:

  • The biggest impact of blogs is in the speed and availability of news.
  • Over half also said that blogs were having a significant impact on the “tone” (61.8%) and “editorial direction” (51.1%) of news reporting.

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“While only a small percentage of journalists feel that blogs are helpful in generating sources or exclusives, they do see blogs as particularly useful in helping them better understand the context of a story, a new story angle, or a new story idea,” said Jerry Johnson, head of strategic planning at Brodeur, during the “Taking the Blogosphere Seriously” seminar at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“It appears that reporters are using blogs more for ethnographic research than they are for investigative research.” 

Among the other findings of the survey:

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  • Blogs are a regular source for journalists: Over three-quarters of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue.

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  • Nearly 70% of all reporters check a blog list on a regular basis:
    • Over one in five (20.9%) reporters said they spend over an hour per day reading blogs.
    • Nearly three in five (57.1%) reporters said they read blogs at least two to three times a week.

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  • Journalists are increasingly active participants in the blogosphere: One in four reporters (27.7%) have their own blogs and nearly one in five (16.3%) have their own social networking page.
  • About half of reporters (47.5%) say they are “lurkers” – reading blogs but rarely commenting.

“Like any new social phenomenon, the blogosphere has become a resource for reporters,” Johnson said, “but reporters are still creating their stories by going out and developing their own ideas and talking to their sources.”

“The blogosphere’s tail is not wagging the media body – at least not yet,” he said.

About the study: Part of an ongoing research project by Brodeur in conjunction with Marketwire to understand the impact of social media and blogs on traditional news delivery, the online survey was conducted among a random sample of North American reporters and editors between December 18, 2007 and January 3, 2008. Some 4,000 reporters were invited via email to participate; a total of 178 completed responses.

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