Journalists Weigh In on AI, Data and Industry Downsizing

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In case you missed it, Cision released its 2024 State of the Media Report last week. Now in its 15th year, the 2024 report surveyed more than 3,000 journalists around the globe to get insight into their biggest challenges, how they work and what they want from PR and comms pros.

While some of their answers stay consistent from year to year, like their desire for press releases from PR teams and the persistent challenge of maintaining credibility among readers, there were also some surprising changes this year.

We asked about the growth of AI and how journalists are using it in their work. Respondents told us how their social media usage is shifting. Journalists’ feelings about proper follow-up etiquette are also changing.

In this post, we dive into several of the big questions we had for this year’s respondents and their sometimes surprising answers. Let’s dive in!

Journalism’s Biggest Challenges

The question: What do you believe were the biggest challenges for the journalism industry in the last year?

The finding: Similar to previous years, “maintaining credibility as a trusted news source/combating accusations of ‘fake news’” was cited as journalists’ biggest challenge of the last year. Forty-two percent of survey respondents named this as the top challenge. With a contentious election season heating up, multiple global conflicts and Americans’ concerns about the economy, this challenge is likely to persist this year.

The surprise: Over 40% of respondents said “adapting to changing audience perceptions around media consumption” was a major challenge last year, making it the second-biggest challenge cited by journalists. This bumped “lack of staffing and resources” out of the No. 2 spot it held in last year’s report. However, downsizing was still the top challenge on an individual level, according to the majority (60%) of journalists.

Data Growth

The question: Compared to last year, how much are you relying on data (views, engagement, demographic data, etc.) to shape your editorial strategy?

The finding: While 56% of respondents said they’re relying on data the same amount as last year, 37% said they’re using it slightly more or much more to determine their strategy.

The surprise: The number of journalists using data slightly more or much more than the previous year jumps to 58% when looking only at APAC journalists’ responses.

Social Media Shift

The question: Social media continues to be ubiquitous and 97% of journalists surveyed said they use it for work-related purposes. So we asked them: Over the next year, which social media platforms does your brand/media outlet plan to be more active on?

The finding: Nearly half of journalists (44%) told us that they plan on being more active on Instagram in the next year. It’s a big boost from only 16% that said the same last year. In the 2023 report, LinkedIn took the top spot.

The surprise: Despite the growing popularity of apps like TikTok and Threads, it’s the legacy platforms that reporters turn to most. Facebook took third on the list with 34% of journalists telling us they plan on using it more in the next year — it didn’t even make the top five in last year’s survey.

AI in the Newsroom

The question: Are you using generative AI tools like ChatGPT or Bard in your work?

The finding: Close to half of respondents (45%) told us that they are using AI in their work at least sometimes, with 5% saying they use the technology often.

The (non)surprise: When asked how they are using AI tools to perform work-related tasks, 23% of journalists said they use it for research and 19% are utilizing the tech to help create outlines or early drafts of stories. While most journalists are still avoiding AI at work, others are open to it as long as it makes sense and can be used responsibly.

The Pitch Problem

The question: What percentage of pitches received do you consider relevant?

The finding: Consistent with last year’s report, the vast majority of journalists (73%) say that 25% or less of the pitches they receive are relevant to their work. This coincides with 68% of respondents agreeing that “Understand my target audience and what they find relevant” is the best thing PR pros can do to make journalists’ jobs easier.

The surprise: While the vast majority (87%) of journalists prefer email outreach, they are more divided on their follow-up preferences and appear to be fed up with multiple pitch follow-ups. Compared to last year, when 17% of respondents said it’s OK to follow up two times, only 8% said the same this year.

Get More Insights…

This only scratches the surface of the State of the Media Report findings. Download the report to read more, including what journalists say they want from PR pros, how they’re using multimedia in their stories and much more.

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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.

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