Welcome to the world of Churnalism
Is journalism getting worse as reporters churn out more work faster to feed the hungry baby of the web?
Nick Davies believes the answer is yes, and has the documents to prove it.
In a recent column in the British newspaper the Guardian, Davies describes a study he had commissioned to investigate the issue. He writes:
I commissioned research from specialists at Cardiff University, who surveyed more than 2,000 UK news stories from the four quality dailies (Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Independent) and the Daily Mail. They found two striking things.
First, when they tried to trace the origins of their “facts”, they discovered that only 12% of the stories were wholly composed of material researched by reporters. With 8% of the stories, they just couldn’t be sure.
The remaining 80%, they found, were wholly, mainly or partially constructed from second-hand material, provided by news agencies and by the public relations industry.
Second, when they looked for evidence that these “facts” had been thoroughly checked, they found this was happening in only 12% of the stories.
His coinage to describe this kind of journalism: Churnalism.
In an interview with Heidi Dawley of Media Life, Davies elaborates: “Churnalism is the most important single example of the way in which commercialization has invaded and undermined newsrooms. . . .We had taken away from us our most precious working asset as a journalist, time.”
An arresting reality check for enthusiasts of “increased productivity” in newsrooms: What, precisely, is being produced?