Word of the day: churnalism

I came across the word 'churnalism' in this month's issue of the National Union of Journalists' magazine the Journalist. It was coined by union member Nick Davies, and it signifies 'the practice of regurgitating material, rapidly and under pressure, from outside sources without checking'. Davies says:

"Where once journalists were active gatherers of news, now they have generally become more passive processors of unchecked, second-hand material.

"Not journalists, but churnalists. An industry whose primary task is to filter out falsehood has become so vulnerable to manipulation that it is now involved in the mass production of falsehood, distortion and propaganda."

Putting aside the irony of me copying this almost verbatim from another source, I can completely relate to Davies' comments. On the magazine that I work for, we are relatively well staffed and resourced, but even so time pressures can often tempt individuals to cut corners, rely too heavily on press releases, and turn to sources such as Wikipedia without checking facts.

Comments?

11 comments:

Pettsson said...

with one hugh exception, most things on tumblrs are not fact, and as such not possible to check. instead, it is views, opinions and dreams, which grows stronger with each reblogg or forward for it gives each person who reads it inspiration for their own dreams or opinions

BOOM22 said...

Hi there JD i am currently writing my journalism dissertation on factuality in magazine journalism today. Could i possibly send you my questionaire to fill out? Would be much appreciated, Rachael

JD said...

Hello Rachael, that shouldn't be a problem. You can email your questionnaire to engineroomblog@gmail.com. If it would help, I could also ask some colleagues to fill it in.

Ant said...

But she wants you to fill it out.

What's you policy on that one, by the way?

Ant said...

That would be 'your' of course. Dodgy 'r' key, can't touch type, and too hasty with the 'publish' button, but I daren't just leave it.

Dan said...

I suppose it's marginally better to "churn" than to completely fabricate stories and quotes like Scott Templeton on The Baltimore Sun (season 5 of The Wire).

JD said...

It doesn't really matter either way, Ant, as Rachael hasn't got back in touch to give me the questionnaire...

Anonymous said...

Nick Davies did not coin the term 'churnalism', it was in fact BBC journalist Waseem Zakir.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Oh yes, so he did:

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=40268&c=1

noneemac said...

Have you coined or found a word to describe what Ant did? Namely, to hit PUBLISH or SEND prematurely?

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Noneemac: I haven't, but it would be useful to have such a word. I'm open to suggestions...