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Beware the Churn

A new website aims to highlight the trend for re-churning text and press releases in articles.

Enter this blog post on Churnalism.com and hopefully it won’t tell you we’ve ‘churned’ some of the content from somewhere else. But this appears to be the temperament of the media today – with so many blogs, websites, social networking sites and PR companies following the same cutting-edge stories, it’s no wonder that a lot of this is shared across the web.

But it’s rather uninspiring for readers how the site highlights the frequency of articles that have just been copied and pasted from press releases provided by publicity companies. The danger being that the web becomes monotonous and repetitive, with little to no creativity going into the writing of supposedly unique pieces of media.

The site allows you to enter an article into its engine and then compares it to over three million, regularly updated, articles already published. It will then give you a ‘churn’ rating out of three and tell you how much of the article has been ‘churned’ from somewhere else. So in this sense, it can be a useful tool if you want to make sure your writing is slightly more original from the next blogger’s.

The site also highlights the ease and rapidity of the spread of media across the web, discussed in our Social Power post last week. News stories or social issues of debate are filtered through from one publicity company to web pages across the world in a matter of hours. One of Churnalism.com’s collaborators, Chris Atkins, has pointed a finger at the reckless manner in which stories can fly about the media, by feeding fake news stories. One of his products was the fictitious story of the Downing Street cat Larry belonging to someone’s aunt that was started as part of a Facebook campaign. The story was picked up so quickly and without question that it appeared in a Daily Mail article and on a piece on a Radio 5 Live show.

So it just goes to show, beware of simply churning out and repeating the words of others – you don’t know what believable but bogus story could be around the corner.

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