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Eleventh Annual Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University Survey of Media Finds More than Half of Journalists Use Blogs Despite Being Unconvinced of their Credibility
[June 20, 2005]

Eleventh Annual Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University Survey of Media Finds More than Half of Journalists Use Blogs Despite Being Unconvinced of their Credibility

NEW YORK --(Business Wire)-- June 20, 2005 -- As journalists continue to grapple with increasing public concern over longstanding reporting practices and growing skepticism about media credibility, the rise of Weblogs is also forcing them to address a host of new questions and pressures resulting from the proliferation of this new media channel. 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.

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.

These are among the most significant findings of this year's media survey, an annual study conducted by New York-based communications firm Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University, and led by Professor Steven S. Ross. Preliminary findings were released on Monday, June 20 with a media panel discussion at the Reuters Building in New York. This year's study surveyed 1,202 journalists both in North America and around the world, and marks the first year in which international journalists were invited to participate. The study questioned respondents on a broad array of timely topics, including ethics, credibility, technology and influence, to assess how the growing number and scale of corporate and media scandals, as well as the changing face of news reporting and source disclosure in the U.S. and abroad, are affecting reporting practices.

"The findings of this year's study simply validate what we have known for some time: that blogs are playing a more significant role in the way information is transmitted to readers and journalists alike, and may profoundly alter the media and communications landscapes," said Aaron Kwittken, CEO of Euro RSCG Magnet. "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."

A year of dramatic growth and extensive news coverage has pushed Weblogs into the public consciousness, sparking concerns about how the media will cope with this new information medium. At the same time, the media has found itself as embattled by scandal as Corporate America has been for the past few years -- facing mounting criticism from readers, the government and its own members. These circumstances have created a "perfect storm" of sorts for blogs, which have grown rapidly as the latest source of news and information -- a trend that could have a significant impact on future reporting practices.

"As blogs continue to gain in popularity, quality and influence, it is becoming imperative that journalists and journalism students continue to integrate blogs, especially blogs that cover technology, into their reporting practices," said Steven S. Ross, associate professor at Columbia University and a partner in the study. "A number of credible and influential Weblogs -- such as Scobleizer, Gizmodo, and Boing Boing -- provide an invaluable trove of research, story ideas, and other information that current and future journalists would be remiss not to leverage in their reporting."

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.

Journalists are also agreed that Weblogs have a healthy future in the coming year for spreading information on the corporate level and functioning as watchdogs; 68% of respondents agree that blogs will become a more popular tool for corporations seeking to inform consumers while 56% agree that blogs will remain an independent and unorthodox means of disseminating information.

Other highlights of the study include the following findings:

-- Journalists face new challenges as they are forced to defend their own credibility while their trust in corporations declines. Indeed, 49% of journalists have lost trust in corporations over the last year, while 45% are less trusting of the professional behavior of their own colleagues -- up from 34% in 2003.

-- Seventy-six percent of journalists agree that corporate candidness in times of crisis is quite poor, and 66% say the same about corporate transparency during a company crisis. Consequently, reporters are turning more and more to independent sources over corporations in order to inform their views. Indeed, industry experts, industry analysts, and academics rank as journalists' top three influential sources, while corporate spokespeople rank tenth in terms of journalistic influence.

-- Journalists also agree that a company's positive image is only as good as the happiness of its customers -- 92% believe high levels of consumer satisfaction are quite important to a company's media standing, while 85% say the same about its status as an industry trendsetter. Interestingly, 80% said financial health was of utmost importance -- placing a company's financial status squarely in fifth place as the most important factor in determining media standing.

-- Journalists' trust in each other has plummeted in the wake of recent scandals; 93% note that they are less trusting of colleagues who are paid to act as spokespeople, and 79% believe that recent revelations about journalists taking payment from third parties has had quite a strong effect on media credibility. Likewise, 78% believe that Rathergate has profoundly altered the media's credibility.

-- 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.

For a recording of a media panel discussion of these results, please contact Diana Nasello at [email protected] or 212-367-6885. A complete version of the report will be available July 2005 at Printed copies of the study can also be ordered by contacting Diana Nasello.

About the Survey:

The results are based on the responses from 1,202 journalists working at newspapers, magazines, online publications, wire services and broadcast outlets worldwide. Recognized by journalists and communications specialists as the definitive work of its kind, the Euro RSCG Magnet survey findings have been integrated into the curricula at major universities as well as the communications strategies of several Fortune 500 companies.

About the Author:

Professor Steven S. Ross has combined a career in teaching, writing, consulting and technology. For the past 20 years, Ross taught full-time at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism as an associate professor of professional practice, teaching new media and analytic journalism. Organizations funding his research have included the Reuters Foundation, media giant A.H. Belo, the Pulitzer Prize board and the National Council on the Aging. He is co-chair of the Institute for Analytic Journalism and Editor-in-Chief of Broadband Properties.

About Euro RSCG Magnet:

As specialists in the art and science of influence, Euro RSCG Magnet delivers results-driven communication programs that influence the influencers most critical to our clients' business. Through our Influence Value Proposition(TM) process, we marry creativity with research-driven insights to produce ideas that transcend traditional public relations and drive positive business results.

Euro RSCG Magnet, part of Euro RSCG PR Worldwide, specializes in technology, consumer and buzz marketing, multicultural communications, business-to-business public relations, corporate communications, investor relations, financial communications, and public affairs. Headquartered in New York City, Euro RSCG Magnet has additional offices in Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Southern California. Clients include Absolut, Evian, IBM, Mercedes-Benz USA, Heineken USA, Yahoo!, Cantor Fitzgerald, D&B, Thomson Corporation, Stryker Corporation, International Paper, Towers Perrin, JVC, U.S. Center for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Treasury, Heinz, Bayer and Transitions Optical.

About Euro RSCG Worldwide

Euro RSCG Worldwide, a leading integrated marketing communications agency, is made up of 233 offices located in 75 countries throughout Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Euro RSCG provides advertising, marketing services, corporate communications, and interactive solutions to global, regional, and local clients. The agency's client roster includes Air France, BNP Paribas, Danone Group, Intel Corporation, LVMH Louis Vuitton, Reckitt Benckiser, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Aventis, Volvo, MCI, and Yahoo!. Headquartered in New York, Euro RSCG Worldwide is the largest unit of Havas, the world's sixth-largest communications group (NASDAQ: HAVS -- Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA).

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