Changes in U.S. Journalism: How do journalists think about social media?

David H. Weaver, Lars Willnat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


During the past decade, great changes have occurred in journalism, many of them due to the rapid rise of social media. What has happened to American journalists in the decade since the early 2000s, a time of tumultuous changes in society, economics, and technology? What impact have the many cutbacks and the dramatic growth of the internet had on US journalists’ attitudes, and behaviors—and even on the definition of who is a journalist? To answer the questions raised above, in late 2013 we conducted a national online survey of 1080 US journalists. The survey is part of the American Journalist project, which conducted similar surveys of US journalists in 1982, 1992, and 2002. We found that US journalists use social media mainly to check on what other news organizations are doing and to look for breaking news events. A majority also use social media to find ideas for stories, keep in touch with their readers and viewers, and find additional information. Thus, journalists use social media predominantly as information-gathering tools and much less to interview sources or to validate information. Our findings also indicate that most journalists consider social media to have a positive impact on their work. Of particular value, it seems, was the fact that social media make journalism more accountable to the public. However, only about a third of the journalists also think that social media have a positive influence on the journalistic profession overall. One of the most common negative perceptions was that online journalism has sacrificed accuracy for speed. Overall, then, it appears that most journalists do see the benefits of social media, but fewer are convinced that these new forms of digital communication will benefit journalistic professionalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)844-855
Number of pages12
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • internet
  • journalism
  • journalists
  • professionalism
  • social media impact
  • social media use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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