As the Columbia Journalism Review revealed in a recent op-ed, “Churnalism” may be the next new concept on all of our radar screens. But is it really something that we all need to worry about? I don’t think so — if we’re doing the right things in the right ways. And that’s an important distinction.
The term churnalism describes the recycling (or churning) of press releases into journalistic (journalism) news. A new website (Churnalism.com) in the UK compares press release text with the content produced by British newspapers, as well as the BBC and Sky News. When the similarity is greater than 20 percent, Churnalism.com suggests the content may be churn rather than true journalism.
Critics in the UK say that this exposure of journalistic news as public relations material could undermine PR professionals’ ability to influence their clients’ publics, and that journalists will suffer a loss of credibility when their dependence on PR for content is revealed.