Churnalism - Prevalence

Prevalence

In his book Flat Earth News, the British journalist Nick Davies reported a study at Cardiff University by Professor Justin Lewis and a team of researchers which found that 80% of the stories in Britain's quality press were not original and that only 12% of stories were generated by reporters. The result is a reduction of quality and accuracy as the articles are open to manipulation and distortion.

BBC journalist Waseem Zakir has been credited for coining the term churnalism. According to Zakir, the trend towards this form of journalism involves reporters becoming more reactive and less proactive in searching for news - "You get copy coming in on the wires and reporters churn it out, processing stuff and maybe adding the odd local quote. It's affecting every newsroom in the country and reporters are becoming churnalists."

An editorial on the matter in the British Journalism Review saw this trend as terminal for current journalism, "...a harbinger of the end of news journalism as we know it, the coroner's verdict can be nothing other than suicide." Others, such as Peter Preston, former editor of The Guardian, see the issue as over-wrought, saying that there was never a golden age of journalism in which journalists were not subject to such pressures.

Nick Davies and Roy Greenslade gave evidence on the matter to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in 2009.

In 2011 the Daily Mail reported that under former editor of The Sun and News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, "Scores, if not hundreds, of front-page stories were written by the PR men. They would think up a headline and story and The Sun and News of the World would run it, word for word. Some of them were complete fiction. Meanwhile, proper stories by proper journalists were buried deep inside the paper."

Churnalism does not only occur in newspapers; for example, Chris Anderson's wide use of "writethroughs" in his book Free has been labelled churnalism, and psychiatrist David Healy has criticised past use of ghost-written copy in academic journals.

Read more about this topic:  Churnalism

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