When it comes to using blogs as primary or secondary sources for articles, 84 percent of journalists say they would or already have, according to the 2007 Arketi Web Watch Survey, conducted by Arketi Group, an integrated marketing and public relations consultancy.

“In an era exploding with user-generated content, social media, and Web 2.0, it’s important for those in business-to-business communications to understand how journalists are using technology when it comes to reporting news,” says Mike Neumeier, principal of Arketi Group.

Not surprisingly, all the journalists surveyed (100 percent) say they rely on the Internet to help get their job done. One-quarter (25 percent) of journalists say blogs make their job easier, while 18 percent say instant messaging makes their job easier. Almost all (97 percent) say they enjoy using new technologies. And nearly one-third (30 percent) say they use some type of instant messenger for professional communication.

When asked how journalists use the Internet:
• 98 percent say reading news
• 97 percent say emailing
• 93 percent say finding news sources
• 89 percent say finding story ideas
• 72 percent say reading blogs
• 67 percent say watching webinars or webcasts

“Clearly this survey shows that business journalists are embracing user-generated content like blogs, webinars and podcasts as useful in their day-to-day reporting,” says Kaye Sweetser, assistant professor of public relations at the University of Georgia’s Grady College. “Savvy companies know this and are looking for ways to legitimately increase their participation in creating and growing online content using Web 2.0 methods.”

Ninety percent of journalists say they turn to industry sources for story ideas, an equal number (90 percent) get story ideas from news releases and a nearly equal number (89 percent) say they tap into public relations contacts. More than three out of four journalists (79 percent) report finding story ideas on newswires, while 74 percent have found them from websites, 72 percent say from other media outlets and 54 percent report blogs spark story ideas.

All journalists surveyed (100 percent) said they prefer working with known sources via email, while 91 percent prefer telephone and 77 percent say in-person. Interestingly one-quarter (25 percent) say they prefer instant messaging with known sources. When it comes to working with unknown sources, nearly all journalists surveyed (98 percent) say they prefer emails. Eighty percent say phone contact with an unknown source is acceptable.

Almost all journalists (98 percent) say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they know, and 93 percent of business journalists say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they don’t know but are in industries they cover.

All journalists responding (100 percent) said they viewed information offered online by business news organizations like the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Bloomberg as credible, and 92 percent said they viewed information reported online by national news organizations like the national TV networks, wire services and newspapers as credible.

Others sources of credible online information according to those journalists surveyed included:
• International organizations (89 percent)
• Government agencies (85 percent)
• Corporate websites (85 percent)
• PR professionals (77 percent)
• Activist websites (41 percent)
• Blogs (41 percent)
• Politicians (35 percent)
• Chat, message boards (18 percent)

In a trend that continues to blur the line between print and online media, an overwhelming majority of journalists (92 percent) say their online publication is allowed to “scoop” their print publication. When it comes to reporting, journalists surveyed wrote primarily for a print publication, but the majority also contributes to their organization’s website (68 percent).

Corporate websites make a difference in how business journalists view an organization. Eighty-five percent of journalists say companies without an Internet Web site are less credible. And many journalists (41 percent) say when they report on breaking news and cannot reach a primary source at the organization, they visit the organization’s Web site. Industry experts, other interested parties, company blogs, industry Web sites and industry blogs serve as journalists’ secondary sources.

“Helping organizations participate in industry-focused conversation is a cornerstone of public relations and today we have more tools than ever before to do just that,” says Neumeier. “Organizations not taking advantage of these tools are going to be at a great communications disadvantage in the coming years because, like the Internet, these tools are not going away.”

According to journalists, the most useful information on a corporate website is contact information (97 percent), search capabilities (95 percent), press room/press kits (92 percent), company backgrounders (89 percent) and publication-quality graphics or photos (66 percent).