Churnalism tracked… and the Mail have already cocked up

Its an issue that has faced any journalist. Its 6pm and you get a press release shoved on your desk and your editor tells you to bash out 200 words asap. You want to go home and relax but you know you should fact check the random piece of paper in front of you. What do you do? Well maybe this new tool will stop journos being so lazy…

The Guardian’s Paul Lewis has an exclusive here about a new website in which people will be able to paste press releases into a “churn engine” to see what percentage of a story is just a rewritten press releases.

More interestingly he cites a spoof press release released by the independent film maker Chris Atkins in which he claimed that the much-famed new Downing Street Cat actually belonged to his aunt in Peckham.

Looking at today’s Mail the story, entitled “Is Larry the Prowling St cat really Jo from a South London council estate?” is on page 3 of   in the first edition, but not anywhere to be seen on their website.  Wonder whether it will make the second and third editions or whether some poor sub has had his bollocks ripped off in Mail HQ…

There are some great tell tale lines in it like when the woman involved points to the fact that she has a cat-flap as evidence that it must be THAT cat or when she promises to use some hairs she collected off the sofa to do a DNA test. Priceless prank and one example of the dangers of churnalism.

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4 responses to “Churnalism tracked… and the Mail have already cocked up

  1. But this could destroy life as we know it. This invention will bring down the whole structure of modern journalism that is predicated on a small number of hacks, locked in bright rooms and chained to screens, filling in the gaps between the adverts as chaeply as possible. The whole cost base will crumble if they are allowed out to find their own stories.

  2. Ironically, mate, you inadvertently doubly prove Chris Atkins’ point about churn. The story about the cat wasn’t from a press release, but from a Facebook page. One of the points about churnalism is that inaccuracies become amplified through repetition, and you have done just this.

  3. Joe this is brilliant. This must be one of your peices which gives you an extra couple hundred hits. Great work.

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