According to a yearlong Pew Excellence in Journalism study, consumers are showing different preferences for where they get different kinds of news. The study also found that for news consumers, the news has become a social medium, with nearly half saying they receive recommendations and referrals from friends, co-workers and relatives.

For instance, the breakdown of the percentage of the newshole dedicated by traditional press follows: politics/government, 15 percent; foreign events, 9 percent; economy, 10 percent; technology, 1 percent, and health and medicine, 11 percent.

Blogs and traditional media share a similar focus on politics/government (17 percent) and foreign events (12 percent). Twitter only devotes 6 percent of its newshole to politics/government, but YouTube is the highest, at 21 percent with 26 percent dedicated to foreign events. One might not ordinarily think of YouTube as a news resource, but we have seen its rise in importance over the past year, with amateur video becoming the only medium for receiving news of the Iran riots.

YouTube only dedicates 1 percent of its capacity to technology, probably because tech does not lend itself to viral video. Twitter, on the other hand, devoted 43 percent of its newshole to tech news — much of it about Twitter itself.

So what does this mean for public relations practitioners?

It means the traditional means of distributing news to consumers is obsolete. Besides the fact that the number of journalists has shrunk dramatically in the past several years, social media enables P.R. practitioners to bypass that intermediate layer and go directly to consumers with their news.

The PEJ study provides a more detailed set of guidelines about where we can direct the different kinds of news to the appropriate medium for dissemination.

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