Irish journalists among world’s heaviest social media users, study finds

Political journalists have highest use of social media with all respondents using Twitter daily

Irish journalists are among the heaviest users of social media in the world, a new study suggests.

Research by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway finds that 99 per cent of journalists in Ireland use social media for work. The study shows that Twitter is by far the most popular social media service among journalists in Ireland, with 92 per cent of respondents using it on a weekly basis.

A similar survey on the use of social media among journalists in various countries (which did not include Ireland) put UK journalists as the most regular users of micro-blogging platforms. That study reported that 92 per cent of UK journalists use microblogging platforms, such as Twitter, in a typical week. The UK was followed by France at 91 per cent, Canada at 89 per cent, Australia at 85 per cent and Sweden at 77 per cent. This figure was 79 per cent for the US. The new Irish survey finds that journalists in Ireland come in par with the UK as the heaviest users of social media, and in particular Twitter.

Type of journalists


This first national survey on Irish journalists’ use of social media found that political journalists have the highest use of social media with a rate of 100 per cent saying that they used Twitter once a day or more.

Sports journalists were the most frequent users of social media, with 84 per cent of them using Twitter multiple times a day.

However world news journalists working for Irish publications seem to be the least interested in the use of social media, with one third of respondents not using Twitter at all for their work.

The study also looks at usage by size of organisation, type of medium, gender and age of journalists. It found that broadcast and online journalists have more appetite for using social media in comparison to those working in print publication.

Sourcing News

Sourcing news was the reason social media was used the most by journalists in Ireland, the study showed. Most used it to source news (58 per cent), followed by sourcing content (49 per cent). This makes social media the second most popular source of news after press releases, which are used by 59 per cent of respondents on a daily basis.

While journalists in Ireland have heavily incorporated social media into their day-to-day work, they also see challenges and dangers in the use of these platforms.

Further findings will be published in a follow-up article at a later date. They show that most journalists in Ireland think information on social media cannot be trusted and believe that social content needs external verification.

About the survey

The first national survey on Irish journalists’ use of social media was done by the Digital Humanities and Journalism group at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway.

The survey was open to all professional journalists working in Ireland, and was distributed widely to attract the broadest possible set of responses. A total of 421 people responded to the survey, with 259 respondents filling it out to completion.

This is believed to be a considerable sample size for Ireland's population size, when compared with similar surveys conducted elsewhere. For example, Cision's most recent UK survey, conducted at the same time as the Irish one, collected less than double the number of responses (589), and the UK has a population almost ten times that of the island Ireland.

Journalists were targeted by email using a list of media professionals in Ireland provided by NUI Galway’s press office; this email was sent to 1,445 people.

A link to the survey was distributed widely through social media, and several articles about the survey featured in local and national media.

The survey had a 31 per cent response rate (421 responses) and a 19 per cent completion rate (259 completions).

As with any other social media-related survey, there is a chance that journalists who are interested in social media, or are more active on the social media, or the ones who are strong opposers may be more likely to have responded to the survey.

The full report provides a comprehensive view of how journalists use social media in Ireland, compares factors in the use of social media by journalists in Ireland, and provides an extensive set of demographics and statistics.

The research was conducted by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUIG and has been published on the Digital Humanities and Journalism Group's website

Bahareh Heravi worked on the study as part of her research role at Insight at NUI Galway. She is also lead data scientist at The Irish Times