More than half of reporters polled have ‘spiked’ stories because of online search results

NEW YORK, May 21, 2018 – A poll of more than 200 journalists nationwide reveals more than 70 percent of respondents report a Google search is their first step in performing background research, while 44 percent said that they did not pursue a story or article based on online search results.

The data demonstrates how online search is now one of the most important tools journalists use when they begin to research a potential news story. Lumentus, a digital communications firm, conducted the survey in the top 50 U.S. markets during late April and early May.

Other notable findings from the 2018 poll of journalists included:


  • More than 65 percent of journalists always perform an online search when researching a story
    • An additional 31 percent stated they often perform the online search for research
    • Less than two percent rarely or never perform online searches for research
  • 76 percent of responding journalists said they always or often consider online search results when researching a subject for coverage
    • Less than four percent rarely or never consider online results when researching a subject for coverage
  • More than 45 percent of respondents said they thoroughly examine all search results that appear relevant


  • 35 percent of journalists said a subject’s digital reputation is very important when they develop story ideas
    • An additional 42 percent stated that digital reputation was somewhat important
  • Only 9 percent said online search results were not important
  • More than 36 percent of journalists say they are less likely to move forward with a story subject if it has little to no online “footprint”


  • 74 percent of the journalists surveyed said they trust other members of the media
  • Nearly 94 percent say they consider potential biases in news coverage when using other outlets as sources for their own coverage
  • About 44 percent said they distrust information they discover on Facebook
  • More than 30 percent distrust information they find on personal websites

“This research confirms our belief that a Google search is the ‘front door’ for every organization or executive,” said Laurence Moskowitz, CEO of Lumentus. “No modern communications plan is complete without a strategy to monitor and manage your organization’s search results in an active and ongoing manner.”

“Creating and managing an online profile that reflects the image a company or organization wants to project is critical in achieving the right first and most long-lasting impression,” said Christina Bertinelli, Lumentus senior partner. “The online or digital image presented by any organization, or even its executives, is crucial for all audiences, from journalists writing about them to clients, employees, and business prospects.”

Corporate websites are a major component of search results, Bertinelli explained, but so are the other results that appear in search, ranging from public filings to other news stories that involve the company or key executives as well as social media activity, blogs and other content.