Naming and shaming
MEDIA Monitoring Africa’s William Bird and his IT partner Billy Einkamerer have introduced a new website that aims to restore “truth to journalism”.
The site, newstools.co.za, will buckle down on the trend of “churnalism”, a word combining “churn” and “journalism”. Bird said many journalists have come to rely on churning out press releases which have just been copied and pasted.
“The site is in beta stage and many bugs still need to be addressed, but for now the site is available to any member of the public who wants to find out if a piece of writing is an original or not,” said Einkamerer.
Bird notes the decline of journalists working in newsrooms over the past years and at the same time the increase in the number of people in public relations .[pullquote align=”right”]“You can follow every single link to an article where the same paragraph has been used so you can determine where the paragraph comes from and how reliable the source is.”[/pullquote]
“We are seeing more and more stories that are being ‘churnalised’ and spin doctors are pleased with the new trend in media because they are getting copy all the time, which comes from the same source,” said Bird.
The website plans to name and shame journalists and media houses who churn out recycled news and press releases.
The site will allow users to find out who is “churnalising” the most.
“When you use our website you search a particular article or paragraph, it locates the same article fairly quickly and reveals where it has been found before,” Einkamerer said.
It also shows the percentage of the article’s match to other articles already online.
“You can follow every single link to an article where the same paragraph has been used so you can determine where the paragraph comes from and how reliable the source is,” said Einkamerer.
Einkamerer said journalism is the pursuit of truth and the website will allow for more transparency and bring back accountability. He believes that true journalists will get more credit and those who are lazy will be exposed.