Journalists are a busy lot, out reporting each day as fire breathing editors demand they fill news holes post haste.
No wonder the allure of a press release. Flip a word here and there, massage some copy and here you go, an article ready for publication.
Not so fast.
England’s Media Standards Trust has released a “churn engine” that lets readers compare articles to press releases to see whether what they’re reading is actually independently reported. Some results can be seen here and examples run the gamut from science to royal family reporting.
As the Guardian notes:
A new website promises to shine a spotlight on “churnalism” by exposing the extent to which news articles have been directly copied from press releases.
The website, churnalism.com, created by charity the Media Standards Trust, allows readers to paste press releases into a “churn engine”. It then compares the text with a constantly updated database of more than 3m articles. The results, which give articles a “churn rating”, show the percentage of any given article that has been reproduced from publicity material…
…In a typical example, the Express, Mirror and Sun all lifted of chunks of text from a press release last month on behalf of the Benenden Healthcare Society, which quoted a poll showing ‘British women spend more money on their looks than their health’. The Daily Mail copied 98% of the text directly from the press release.