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Highlights from The State of Journalism Report 2022 by Muck Rack
Trends and Insights on the State of Journalism in 2022
You can also listen to a recap of the report on the Pitchin’ and Sippin’ Podcast here.
Muck Rack – a popular PR software – published its annual State of Journalism 2022 Report in March, and we’re excited to provide a few highlights on key findings. Produced in partnership with Online News Association (ONA), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Foreign Press Association (FPA), International Journalists Network (IJNET), Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), and more, Muck Rack surveyed more than 2,500 journalists during January of this year for the making of this report.
A bit more about those surveyed
- Role: 64% are full-time journalists, editorial writers or bloggers, 19% are full-time freelance journalists and 12% create journalistic content but supplement their income with other work.
- Experience: 32% have been a journalist for 20+ years. 25% have been a journalist for 10-20 years. 21% have 6-10 years experience, while 5% have 1-2 years experience. Finally, 1% have under 1 year of journalistic experience.
- Medium: 74% of journalists primarily report in online formats. Of those, 41% report online (with a print edition), and 33% report online (with no print edition).
Highlights from Section 1: Social Media, News Consumption and Reporting
When asked, “do you feel that your audience’s trust in coverage of your area of journalism has increased or decreased in the past year?” respondents reported:
- 32% say it has increased
- 47% it’s the same
- 22% decreased
When asked, “in general, where do you go first for your news?” respondents reported:
- 57% of journalists get their news from online newspapers or magazines, down from 58% in 2021.
- 18% get their news from Twitter (up from 16% last year).
When asked, “what social network is most valuable to you as a journalist?”, respondents ranked platforms in the following order:
- Twitter 77%
- Facebook – 39%
- LinkedIn 24%
- Instagram 17%
- Youtube 16%
Journalists plan to spend more time on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube this year.
Another interesting stat we wanted to highlight is that 60% of journalists consult a companyʼs social media in their reporting. So if you’re a brand or company and you don’t have a social presence, here is evidence that it is to your benefit to get that sorted out if press coverage is on your wish list.
When asked what makes a story sharable, journalists responded by noting:
- 71% subject is connected to a trending story
- 65% contains an image or infographic
- 57% exclusive or surprising data
- 54% easily localized or relevant to the target audience
- 25% contains video
- 20% brevity
- 12% involves social media influencer
- 8% quotes from a company spokesperson
Highlights from Section 2: Event Coverage
In the report, 53% of journalists stated they plan to attend more in-person events in 2022. When asked how likely are you to cover a virtual event in 2022, 34% said they are more likely to cover a virtual event, 46% stated it doesn’t affect any likelihood of covering, and 21% confirmed less likely.
Of all virtual event platforms on the market, Zoom was the most preferred by journalists in reference to where virtual events are hosted.
The report also detailed the “Top 10 Events Journalists Plan to Cover in 2022”. The average journalist surveyed for this report covers 4 beats, the most popular industries covered being Politics, Government and Legal, Arts and Culture, Business and Finance, Energy and Environment, and Education. With that context, here are the top 10 events on journalist’s radar:
- UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)
- World Economic Forum
- World Conference on Climate Change and Sustainability
- Government Social Media Conference
- Future of Finance
- TechCrunch Disrupt
Highlights from Section 3: Media Relations – Pitching Preferences and More
When asked how journalists view their relationship with PR teams and people at PR agencies, 60% stated they view the exchange as “mutually beneficial, [but] not quite a partnership.” Beyond that, 32% said they felt it was either a “necessary evil” (16%) or “antagonistic, but not inherently a bad thing” (16%). Only 8% of respondents answered “a partnership.
When compared to a year ago, Journalists reported they are:
- 59% just as likely to respond to pitches
- 23% more likely to respond
- 18% – less likely to respond
When asked, “why do you immediately reject otherwise relevant pitches?” journalists responded by stating:
- 24% bad timing
- 23% (other)
- Irrelevant, off-topic not localized, or poorly written
- 22% lack of personalization
- 15% confusing subject line
- 13% too lengthy
- 3% large attachments
Regarding which channels journalists prefer to be pitched on, an email came in at first place at 94%. Here were the top 5 answers:
- 94% 1:1 Email
- 17% mass email/newswire
- 15% phone
- 13% Twitter
- 8% other social networks
This serves as a clear reminder that email is by far where those pitching should be headed. For anyone who believes sliding into a journalist’s DMs might give them an edge – it might – but only for about 8% of journalists – so slide carefully friends.
This section also reported that the day’s journalists prefer to be pitched rank in order; i.e., Monday coming in at number 1, followed by Tuesday at number 2, and so forth through Sunday coming in at last place.
This is consistent with last year’s findings, although we will say it’s interesting to note that every member of the media interviewed on the Pitchin’ and Sippin’ podcast has stated they prefer to be pitched any day OTHER than Mondays or Fridays. Quick tip here, turn on an email tracker, monitor open and response rates, and take notes of a given journalist’s patterns on your media list.
When asked, “when is the best time for you to receive a pitch?” respondents stated:
- 67% between 5am and 12pm
- 12% overnight 11pm – 5am
- 11% early afternoon – 12pm – 3pm
- 10% after 3pm – 11pm
Remember, there are some pretty cool tech hacks out there that allow us to schedule emails directly from our inbox (if 5am sounds way too early for you.) Boomerang is one we use at THEPRBAR inc.
Section 3 also revealed that 50% of journalists receive 1-5 pitches on an average day, 19% receive 6-10, and 10% receive 11-20. Journalists covering fashion & beauty receive the most pitches, 23% getting between 6-10 and 10% get 51+ pitches weekly.
Regarding how many stories they actively submit weekly, 51% of journalists publish 5 or more stories per week.
When asked, “about what portion of stories you publish originate from pitches?” respondents answered as follows:
- 59% a quarter
- 19% none
- 15% half
- 5% ¾
- 1% all
In summary – 80% of journalists say a quarter or more of their stories originate from pitches.
Ideal pitch length was another metric surveyed. 45% of journalists prefer a pitch to be between 100-200 words, 23% answered less than 100 words, and 21% stated 201-300 words was fine.
The outliers? Food & dining and travel have the most journalists that are OK with pitches that are more than 200 words (35% and 34% respectively).
So the summary here if you can’t visualize word count length… keep it short and sweet.
Always a hot topic – follow-up emails – when asked, “how many follow-up emails are acceptable?” journalists stated they prefer 1-2 follow-ups max. Here is the breakdown:
- 49% 1
- 31% 2
- 10% 0
- 5% 3
- 4% 4
More color on this topic – “How long after an initial email is it ok to follow up?”
- 52% 3-7 days
- 33% 1-2 days
- 11% 1-2 weeks
- 4% more than 2 weeks
When asked, “do you consider the following to be credible sources for your reporting?”, those surveyed answered as follows:
- 84% Academic subject matter experts
- 66% CEOs
- 50% Company PR pros
- 36% Agency PR pros
- 17% Social media personalities
- 14% Celebrity spokespeople
- 13% Bloggers
- 12% Self-appointed subject matter experts
While the majority find academic subject matter experts credible (84%) fewer journalists named CEOs (66% vs. 74% last year) and company PR pros (50% vs. 55% last year).
The last stat we want to highlight involved “exclusives.” If you don’t know what an exclusive is, it’s basically selecting a specific outlet and giving them the first dibs to publishing before you release publicly or pitch any outside outlets.
When asked, “If offered an exclusive, how much more likely are you to cover the story”, 50% of journalists are much more likely, 29% are somewhat likely, and the rest say less likely or it depends.
There we have it! Key findings and highlights from The State of Journalism 2022 Report by Muck Rack. For the full 50 page report – which honestly is very graphically pleasing and easy to work through – visit muckrack.com.