Churnalism

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Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture
Churnalism

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Chris Atkins has revealed how he duped the BBC into running an entirely fictitious story about Downing Street's new cat to coincide with the site's launch.

The director created a Facebook page in the name of a fictitious character, "Tim Sutcliffe", who claimed the cat - which came from Battersea Cats Home - had belonged to his aunt Margaret. The story appeared in the Daily Mail and Metro, before receiving a prominent slot on BBC Radio 5 Live.
BBC Radio 5 Live's Gaby Logan talks about a fictitious cat story Link to this audio

Atkins, who was not involved in creating churnalism.com, uses spoof stories to highlight the failure of journalists to corroborate stories.

from Churnalism or News: How PRs have taken over the media

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

And this, too, is churnalism...

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Across the country today, there are dozens (at least 70) of "announcements" being made by Tory backbenchers about how the government is spending taxpayers' money to sustain the economy. The media are being invited to attend the "important" announcements. There isn't really anything terribly new in them. They tend to relate to infrastructure projects that were funded in a budget long ago.

And yet the purpose is clear. Get the MP's picture in the local paper. Get a story about how the government's number one priority is the economy and creating jobs. (And just as important, divert attention from the issue once again being highlighted in Ottawa today by the Liberals and New Democats: How Bev Oda ordered the alteration of a bureaucratic memo and allegedly misled Parliament about the affair).

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture
Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

So how is it that as technology advances, truth retreats? How do we enforce higher standards on our media?

And what is the problem that prevents us from even maintaining the standard of journalism that we expected just a decade or two ago?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

A discussion on the breaking of journalism:

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Davies's key assertion is that journalism is about telling the truth. To him, telling the truth is a "necessary but not sufficient" part of the job. And if the primary function of a journalist is truth-telling, the primary activity should be checking and gathering evidence. Be it through reviewing literature, conducting interviews or checking sources, the final goal is the same - to "construct a story entirely out of statements of fact."

The notion of journalism as truth-telling may be met with surprise and denial by many of you, and Davies would probably sympathise. He has been a journalist for over 30 years and in his mind, things have changed. "News media should be reliable sources of truth", he says, "but they are riddled with stories that appear to be true but actually aren't upon checking." The situation is a lot like the widespread belief that the Earth was flat - a concept that was taken as fact until some serious checking was done. Hence, the name of the book.

The key question then becomes why we produce stories with "falsehood, distortion and propaganda"? He says, "There are certainly a lot of lazy hacks out there - some of them are drunk as well. But that's a relatively small factor." To Davies, it's a "structural problem". Modern journalism has been saddled with a structure that is likely to produce inaccurate stories. As he so eloquently put it, "Newsrooms are taken over by corporations that have injected logic of commercialism and rejected the logic of journalism."

Corporations (Rupert Murdoch's name was mentioned more than once) have ignited two main problems - they have reduced the time that journalists have and they have increased their workload. "So instead of making contacts, finding stories and checking facts, more and more journalists sit at desks and recycle press releases from world of PR and wire news. Not only do we recycle, but we do it without checking properly."

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

A very dangerous development: Law Enforcement Churnalism

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As Public Information Manager for the Boca Raton Police Department we are diving head first into Social Media and Web 2.0. While we consider ourselves one of the leaders in this new venture, we are not alone. Law enforcement agencies from around the country are jumping on board, informing the public and media with platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Nixle. From Boston, to Boca Raton, from Scottsdale to Milwaukee, police departments are tweeting out press releases, writing blogs and posting recent activity on their websites. Some, like us, are even producing video segments to upload to their websites and You Tube.

How is this changing the way the media covers stories? While I can't speak for every department out there, I see an interesting trend developing. Crimes that the media used to call about or show up to before police could even secure the scene are going unnoticed by the media. They are finding out about it from us after we post it to our website and Tweet it out. Many media outlets follow us on Nixle and Twitter and call as soon as we put out a story.

I say story, because here in Boca Raton we have taken it one step further. We don't just release the police report; we write our own story and post it to our website. Even more interesting, we are finding the media is just cutting and pasting our stories to their sites, both in television and print. They might change the headline, but they put the story we wrote on their site. While the media is asking questions on some higher profile cases, many are being posted and printed as is. It seems like a complete 180, as law enforcement used to try and avoid the media, we now find ourselves becoming the media.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
A journalist walks into a room. There are two men standing at two windows, looking out. The journalist asks both about the state of the weather outside. The first says it's sunny and clear. The second says it's raining and dark. The journalist writes it up and slams on a provocative headline about meterological disagreement. No one reading the story has any clue what the weather was.

Only one man was right of the two (unless the weather was seriously messed, which is a story on its own) and even both could have been lying. Why did the journalist trust the opinions of people, when that journo could have looked out the window and found the facts, the truth, about the weather for himself?

Thoughts on the three golden rules of journalism

MegB

Cool link. Thanks.