Report: Fake news has reporters demanding accuracy

Cision’s 2018 State of the Media report shows that investment in journalism is on the rise, but media outlets are fighting back against misinformation and spin.

Being fast is important, but a new study says it’s more important to be right.

Cision surveyed 1,355 journalists from six different countries, developing a snapshot of the current state of play in the news media industry. While good news came for major outlets like The New York Times, respondents said they still were on the lookout for fake news and wanted more accuracy from PR pros.

The report said:

According to three-quarters of the survey’s respondents, being 100 percent accurate in their reporting is more important than being first on a story or the promise of exclusivity. As well, 56 percent of journalists said fake news accusations are causing audiences to become more skeptical about the content they produce.

This sentiment wasn’t confined to the United States. Sixty-three percent of respondents in the United Kingdom said the public had lost trust in journalism; in France, 42 percent agreed, and Canada came in at 69 percent.

What does that mean for brand managers and PR pros? The report argues communicators and media relations teams should make accuracy their No. 1 priority.

It said:

Most [journalists] are happy to work with public relations professionals, provided they’re giving them information that’s accurate, newsworthy, and that can be used to enhance their coverage.

Social media trends

The report also looked at how journalists were continuing to struggle with social media’s impact on their industry. Specifically, respondents said they worried about algorithm changes (34 percent), cheaper video production technology (26 percent) and artificial intelligence (21 percent) as factors that would change their day-to-day work.

What reporters want from PR

The report had good news for PR pros, too. Reporters said they continued to rely on relationships with PR pros, with 20 percent saying relationships with PR folk were more important than ever.

There was also good news for the press release: Reporters still want them. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they wanted a press release or news announcement from PR sources, and 44 percent said they trusted press releases more than other contact methods, including spokespeople and organization websites.

The report also offers ideas for PR pros to make their press releases more effective. Respondents ranked their preferences as:

1. Clearly state your news hook (45 percent)

2. Tell your story conversationally (27 percent)

3. Add quality quotes (17 percent)

4. Include multimedia (11 percent)

Blogs don’t build trust

The report suggested that your organization’s blog is a helpful tool—but not when it comes to building trust with your audience.

The report states:

Continuing to make earned media a priority is still important, too. Using owned channels, like a website or company blog, can provide some context and useful information, but it’s not useful for reporting a story. In fact, only three percent of global respondents said that a company blog is a trustworthy source of brand information for their stories. Getting someone to speak to a journalist directly, versus just pointing them to your site, is still important today.

Make the news hook explicit

The biggest finding of the survey might be that PR pros are still burying the lede.

As reporting staffs continue to shrink and media requests flood inboxes, it’s more important than ever to get to the point. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said PR pros could do a better job of researching media outlets and understanding what a reporter needs before pitching. Another 27 percent said PR pros should be more ready with their data and expert resources.

Read the full report from Cision to understand what journalists want to see from PR pros and how your efforts can win your organization better news coverage.

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