Investigating ‘Churnalism’ In Real-Time News

Authored by: Tom Van Hout , Sarah Van Leuven

The Routledge Companion to Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138887961
eBook ISBN: 9781315713793
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315713793-12

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Abstract

Popularized by industry insider Nick Davies, ‘churnalism’ refers to the recycling of prepackaged public relations and press agency copy as news. In Flat Earth News, Davies (2008: 59) paints a bleak picture of “journalists who are no longer out gathering news but who are reduced instead to passive processors of whatever material comes their way, churning out stories whether real event or PR artifice, important or trivial, true or false.” Davies’ narrative is one of seemingly irreversible decline. Corporate interests have grown profit margins at the expense of staff numbers and news quality. Industrial concentration, uncertain labor conditions, standardization, and digital media technologies have caused fewer journalists to serve more media. Journalists themselves are no longer committed to uncovering truths. Instead, they rely on second-hand information and spread pseudo-news. Almost certainly a diagnosis of a terminal illness.

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