What do Journalists use most for story ideas and research?

I discovered Facebook has an easy-to-use polling service and gave it a try. I limited my poll to only journalism majors but not a specific age group (I wish it would have enabled me to add that). The poll asks the question, "What do you use most for story ideas and research?" I then offered up the following response options:

  • Search engines (Internet)
  • Press releases
  • What I hear from other people
  • What I read (hardcopy)
  • What I read (online)

Realizing the population on Facebook leans towards college age, I really wondered how many would have even had the opportunity to use press releases as a resource. The following results tell the story.I got the max of 100 responses in just a few hours and here’s the result:

What do you use most for story ideas and research?

This by itself doesn’t tell me as much as the breakdowns below but it certainly gives credence to the belief that people of all ages are turning to the Internet as a research tool and leaving the conventional (at least for me) offline resources.

When the responses are broken down by age groups (pre-college, college, post-college, …) we can see a lot more into the numbers.

Responses by age

I got no responses one response from the pre-college group, happily expected. S/he uses the Internet.

In the college crowd, they use the Internet by far with what they read online elsewhere coming in second. Interestingly, 6% of the college age crowd has not only access to press releases but are actually referring to them as their primary resource. Who are these kids? They are almost as big a group as those who are still relying on offline content. I don’t know what to make of this really. Wish this could be a bigger sample.

The post college crowd is using the Internet even moreso than their youngers. They give no value to offline content and result in the largest audience for press releases.

The hopelessly entrenched in their professional lives group (someone gimme a better name) use the Internet far more for their research than their youngers. Who saw that coming? Certainly not me. Not surprising I suppose is that they are also holding onto offline content as their second and only other source.

Interesting stuff for an ad hoc small sample poll with forced responses.

Here’s some more demographic breakdowns (thank you Facebook for providing) for those of you who just can’t get enough.

Responses by age and sex

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