Irish journalists are among the heaviest users of social media in the world, but they also believe information sourced on social media cannot be trusted and believe that social content needs external verification.
Research by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway previously found that 99 per cent of journalists in Ireland use social media for work.
The latest research further reveals that most journalists in Ireland do not trust social media, with only 12 per cent of respondents stating they are “fairly confident” that social media can be trusted, and less than half a per cent trusting it fully.
Sixty-four per cent of journalists in Ireland consider this lack of trust as the main deterrent for using social media in their work.
At the same time, 27 per cent of respondents state they would not be able to carry out their journalistic work without social media.
There is no significant correlation between these journalists and their age.
Social media has a strongly positive association with time-saving, efficiency and audience engagement in relation to journalists’ work. It has a mildly negative association with more qualitative factors, such as traditional journalistic values and the quality of journalism.
Almost half of respondents state the use of social media overall improves the quality of their work, and over 50 per cent agree or strongly agree that using social media saves them time. Similarly 67 per cent of respondents state the number of stories produced increases with the use of social media.
The speed at which a story is reported is also observed to increase with the use of social media; 76 per cent of respondents say using social media allows them to be quicker in reporting news stories. Only 3 per cent strongly disagree that incorporating social media into their workflows increases the speed of reportage.
From several different angles, speed is a positive indicator for social media use – social media is perceived as saving the journalist time, allowing her or him to cover more stories, and enabling faster publication/broadcast of these stories.
Despite these perceived advantages, the information sourced may not be deemed trustworthy.
There is a noticeable difference between media types when it comes to how time-saving journalists perceive social media to be. The majority (78 per cent) of journalists working primarily for an online-only publication agree somewhat or strongly agree that using social media saves them time, whereas only 3 per cent of those working for a print magazine feel this way.
The majority said using social media makes them more engaged with their audience (75 per cent) and more engaged with other journalists (77 per cent).
The benefits of using social media as part of a journalistic workflow contrast with the slight majority perception (55 per cent) that social media use has the potential to negatively impact “traditional journalistic values”, if not the individual work of a given journalist.
About the survey
The first national survey on Irish journalists' use of social media was conducted 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.
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.
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.