Churnalism

Interesting new site, churnalism.com, which highlights the extent to which the media rely on press releases for stories and just regurgitate them unquestioningly, without adding anything of their own or looking with a critical eye at the content. It allows you to paste into a box any text from an online story and see how often it’s appeared elsewhere in almost exactly the same format.

The site quite rightly highlights the extent to which the Mail Online, which has a huge amount of new content each day, relies on this. Many of their stories, especially those announcing the results of new surveys, come straight from PR departments, which is why there’s no editorial consistency and you get a story one day that meat/ alcohol/ etc is good for you and a story the next about it causing cancer. I’m not sure that the churnalism site will do anything to stop this practice, but it should be generate some fun and maybe one or two lazy journalists will think twice before they submit such copy.

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Comments

  • thebristolblogger  On February 24, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Interesting that someone who writes a free column for the local newspaper should complain of churnalism.

    In the good old days our local MPs would be subjected to a grilling and their views cross-examined before entering the media.

    • kerrymccarthy  On February 25, 2011 at 12:52 am

      A) that’s not the same thing at all and b) I think the good old days are a figment of your imagination.

      • woodsy  On February 25, 2011 at 11:18 am

        I think the good old days are a figment of your imagination.

        Not so. I agree with Mr Blogger. The press did use to scrutinise the views of politicians more – and check on the veracity of facts before publication.

        The late father of one of my oldest friends used to be a sub-editor on the Evening Post until he retired approximately 20 years ago. He frequently bemoaned the drop in standards in the press practised by his successors.

  • John Ruddy  On February 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Kerry,
    This is poor, and yes it does show that newspapers will just print out press releases from the likes of the Taxpayers Alliance et al without question – which is a pity as their stuff is so easily rebutted with actual facts. However, does this not also give us an opportunity to do much the same? After all, if you see a press release one day in the Mail saying all public sector workers are parasites, and another the following day saying how hard working they are – its definitely going to blunt the effect of the lying propoganda that the right are putting out?

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