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11.21.2008
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Generational difference emerges among journalists on value of new media tools in enhancing profession

A wide disparity exists between the views of younger and older journalists when it comes to the value new media and communications tools have in enhancing journalism, according to initial results of an ongoing survey of print, broadcast and online reporters and editors.

According to the study, presented Nov. 14 in Cambridge, MA, at the 3rd Annual Society for New Communications Research Symposium, 100 percent of 18- to 29-year-old journalists surveyed say they believe such tools are enhancing journalism while only 40 percent of 50- to 64-year-old journalists hold the same view.

The survey findings were presented by Don Middleberg, CEO of the independent public relations agency Middleberg Communications, and Jen McClure, executive director of the Society for New Communications Research (SNRC). The study is a successor to the journalist survey conducted from 1994 to 2004 by Don Middleberg and Steven Ross, formerly associate professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

While attitudes about the value of these tools vary by age, their use appears to be less affected. Eighty-six percent of all respondents say they use company Web sites, 71 percent use Wikipedia and 46 percent use blogs to research an individual organization, according to the study. Additionally, 68 percent of all respondents use blogs to stay current on issues, 48 percent said they use LinkedIn and 45 percent use Facebook to assist in reporting.

Differences between the age groups also surfaced regarding the importance of bloggers in shaping public opinion and the ability of new media and communications to enhance audience relationships.

The survey found 87 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents say they believe bloggers have become important opinion shapers while 60 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds held the same view. Eighty-seven percent of the younger journalists also say new media and communications enhances the relationship with their audience while 40 percent of the older journalists held the same view.

The survey began in September and is ongoing. The authors of the study are inviting journalists to participate by visiting http://www.surveytracker.net/scripts/survey.dll?AHID=03100D.

The final results will be published in the SNCR's Journal of New Communications Research and presented at the New Communications Forum in Spring 2009.


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