Churnalism: fine example from Archant Suffolk
- Churnalism is the habit of some media of using press releases without much added. There is a fine example of it from the Archant Suffolk newspapers and websites today.
The chairman of the new Industrial and Provident Society set up by the county council to run its libraries resigned yesterday and was replaced by the choice of the IPS board.
Eventually the board will be chosen by community groups involved in the running of local libraries but initially the board members are appointed by the council. So the decision of the board to replace the council appointed chairman is significant.
The county council put out a press release, presumably on behalf of the IPS although this was not stated. This is understandable as the IPS does not yet have the means to distribute its own releases.
The Archant Suffolk story (the two dailies, the Ipswich Star and the East Anglian Daily Times and several weeklies have a joint reporting staff) was simply a rewrite of the press release. Nothing added. Churnalism.
The Wordblog Suffolk story is here.
The Media Standards Trust, an independent charity aiming to foster high standards in news media, exposes the prevalence of churnalism, with a churn engine which helps readers identify recycled press releases in national newspapers.
Of course, press releases have a part to play in journalism. Sometimes it is right to use simple, uncontroversial, informative releases without additional material.
But the change of leadership at the libraries IPS is a topic where newspapers need to help readers understand what it is all about.