Churnalism

via the-digital-reader.com

via the-digital-reader.com

If you haven’t heard of churnalism, check it out! It’s really easy to work with and it’s pretty awesome.
This piece from The Atlantic is a must read.
Even as a reporter I’m curious with what I can find from what I’m reading online.
Press releases are, well, a part of everyday life for reporters. How you use them is the key.
I’ve been waiting for something like this. I’m sure there are some for research papers, but churnalism may turn out to be one hell of a good tool.
How does it work?

“The site compresses all articles published on national newspaper websites, on BBC news, and Sky news online, into a series of numbers based on 15 character strings (using a hash function) and then stores them in a fast access database. When someone pastes in some text and clicks ‘compare’, the churn engine compresses the text entered and then searches for similar compressions (or ‘common hashes’). If the engine finds any articles where the similarity is greater than 20%, then it suggests the article may be churn. Churnalism.com is powered off the back of the database of over three million compressed articles in journalisted.com,” the web site says.

Three million articles is a lot and I’m curious to see when big, long-form articles are going to be written by what people find. I find it hard to believe that many organiziations will change the way they do things. I have a gut feeling many things won’t change, but it could be just a matter of time.

It’s already begun here and here.
I really don’t see a problem with the new tool. I may have missed something in my assessment, but I think it’ll make people think about how they use press releases, among other things.
Reporters know which newspapers rewrite releases. It’s obvious. Now, with everyone being able to see it, I think it helps the public know who is really trying to get a different perspective on a story and who is towing the line. It’s going to be interesting to see how things change.
Jonathan
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