Since 1997, when News Generation began conducting surveys about the importance of the Internet in radio newsrooms across America, for the first time in three years, news and talk show producers and assignment editors admit with one, unified voice, “The Internet has become the most significant source of information, surpassing all other media, including newspapers. It’s the place we go to find things out!”
Specifically, we contacted 50 news, news-talk and talk radio stations in top media markets across the country, and found that producers and assignment editors are online an average of seven hours a day – nearly an entire workday. Only two percent say there is any room for growth of surfing the net for story ideas or scrolling through various publications online, instead of leafing through their pages at the corner newsstand or coffee shop on the way to work.
Another interesting note is that newsroom Internet users seem to be spending less time accessing online newspapers than ever before. Just last year, ninety percent of all the radio stations we surveyed reported their local newspaper website was the most frequently visited site because it provided the most credible, in-depth information. This year our survey shows a dramatic 78% drop in visits to online newspaper sites. The reason: immediacy. Such importance is placed on immediacy that the most valuable and frequently visited sites are those that can provide the most credible coverage of breaking news.
For 54% of the stations we questioned, breaking news is the number one reason producers and assignment editors stay online all day. And, for the other half, timeliness keeps producers glued to the net: that, and finding the right spokespeople for on air interviews after a story breaks or when an issue mushrooms. For all the stations, the Internet is seen as a huge Rolodex, filled with names and phone numbers, stations can quickly access.
The Internet provides timely access to wires, feeds, sound bites – all of which make up a little more than a third of the content of today’s talk shows and newscasts. And what a prime promotional tool the Internet has become, with more than 84% of the stations surveyed streaming their news reports and talk shows over the ‘Net, building loyal fans throughout the workday and in cases of crisis, offering important up-to-the minute information to those tuning in on the Worldwide Web.
Without question radio stations have made friends with the Internet and, as we learned, it’s the place people, including producers, “Go to find things out!”