Saturday, August 27, 2005

Media - The Credibility Crisis

Here is a fascinating poll on blogs.

Earlier this month, MSM put out three attack articles on blogs, warning of a "blogbust" and "over-hyping".

Now we learn according "to the most recent findings of the 11th Annual Euro RSCG Magnet Survey of the Media, done in partnership with Columbia University, the majority of journalists are using blogs to do their work, despite the fact that only 1% believe blogs are credible. "

So, are journalists lying when they say blogs are not credible or are they purposefuly using sources they deem to be not credible? Either choice does not bode well. I think we know the truth anyway.

Let's look at some of the statistics.

"Interestingly it is the journalists—not their readers—that are turning to blogs in record numbers. While the Euro RSCG Magnet study shows that more than half (51%) of journalists use Weblogs regularly—with 28% relying on them for day-to-day reporting, a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project Survey showed that just 11% of the U.S. population reads blogs."

Amazing figures when you consider that the same survey says only "only 1% [of journalists] believe blogs are credible".

Their claim that it's the journalists and not readers, who "are turning to blogs in record numbers", is a little suspect.

I don't know how many journalists there are in America, be we can deduce the number of blog readers. If we assume that you have to be on the internet to read a blog, then the number of readers comes from a pool of "202,888,307 Internet users as of June/2005, 68.5% of the population, according to Nielsen//NetRatings." Using the survey's 11% figure that would yield over 20 million readers. I doubt there are that many journalists in America.

And if the growth rate for internet uses remained the same over the next 5 years, those numbers will double. The number of journalists most certainly will not.

What is the impact of all of this?

“The fact that the media are using blogs for reporting and research also demonstrates that blogs have an enormous potential to not only influence the general public, but to influence the influencers – journalists and the media – as well.”

So while dissing bloggers in public, in private, journalists are relying on blogs. Look at these revealing statistics.

The study found that blogs have become a large – and arguably, increasingly integral – part of how journalists do their jobs. Indeed, 70% of journalists who use blogs do so for work-related tasks. Most often, those work-related tasks involve finding story ideas, with 53% of journalist respondents reporting using blogs for such purposes. But respondents also turn to blogs for other uses, including researching and referencing facts (43%) and finding sources (36%). Most notable, fully 33% of journalists say they use blogs as a way of uncovering breaking news or scandals. Few blog-using journalists are engaging with this new medium by posting to blogs or publishing their own; such activities might be seen as compromising objectivity and thus credibility.

Do editors and publishers know this?

How big an impact was Rathergate, exposed by bloggers, on the media? "Likewise, 78% believe that Rathergate has profoundly altered the media’s credibility."

But did any good come out of it? You bet.

Reporters’ commitment to maintaining their own credibility has never been stronger, and has perhaps skyrocketed due to the desire to rebuild the media’s credibility. Indeed, the growth in reporters who are excruciatingly careful in fact-checking their stories is startling – 93% of journalists reporting being so in 2005, compared with just 59% in 2003.

But even this raises serious questions.

We know the media, even today, is still faking stories and making things up. Krugman still works at the New York Times for pete's sake. If it's this bad today, how bad was it in 2003 when only 59% of journalists were careful in their fact checking?

One has to wonder at today's journalists fact checking abilities, if 93% say they "are excruciatingly careful", and yet they continue to make such gross errors.

What this proves is the MSM are no longer ignoring the elephant in the room. In fact, they are making a home for it.

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