Churnalism 2.0

July 15, 2008

In his scathing critique of the state of the British fourth estate (1970s-2007), entitled Flat Earth News, seasoned Guardian investigative reporter exposed falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media. This reporter with a distinguished record in investigative journalism claims that “the British newspaper industry, its regulators and the PR machine that supplies it” accept, report and spread “lies, distortions and propaganda” in a culture of “churnalism” not objective, investigative reporting (Riddell 2008).

“Il documente les règles permettant à n’importe quel rédacteur d’usiner une « information » sans chair, sans risque et parfois sans vérité — mais respectueuse des principes du marketing : privilégier les enquêtes au rabais, éviter de froisser les institutions, se porter au devant des désirs supposés du lecteur, alimenter la panique morale… (Davies 2008-07).”

He revealed how the public has come to accept misinformation (the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) as it is so widely spread by a mass media culture in which fewer journalists are hired and those that remain are discouraged from taking the time to verify the credibility of sources.

“Davies unmuzzled deplores the rise of ‘churnalism’; the quick-turnover dross peddled by hacks less scrupulous or fortunate than him. Costs are being cut and standards eroded by greedy proprietors. Hidden persuaders are manipulating truth. At its worst, the modern newsroom is a place of bungs and bribes, whose occupants forage illicitly for scoops in databases and dustbins. Newspapers hold others to account while hushing up their own unsavoury methods. Self-regulation does not always offer fair (or any) redress to citizens who have had lies written about them. Stories are often pompous, biased or plain wrong. Some close scrutiny is not only legitimate: it is overdue (Riddell 2008-02-03).”

BBC website. Look how much of that is just rewritten wire copy with no attribution

Webliography and Bibliography

Davies, Nick. 2008. Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media. London: Chatto & Windus.

Davies, Nick. 2008-07. “Qui veut en finir avec le modèle de la BBC: L’émotion n’existe pas? Alors, inventez-la!Le monde diplomatique.

Glover, Stephen. 2008-02-04. “Damning allegations that, if true, bring disgrace upon ‘The Observer’. Stephen Glover on The Press > The Independent.

Greenslade, Roy. 2008-02-04. “The difference between journalism and churnalism, a book we must take seriously.” > Greenslade > The Guardian blog.

Lanchester, John. 2008-03-06. “Riots, Terrorism etc.London Review of Books.

Riddell, Mary. 2008-02-03. “Failures of the Fourth Estate: Flat Earth News by Nick Davies turns the spotlight on the workings of the press.” The Observer.


See also Media Objectivity in Canada: a Timeline of Social Events November 30, 2007.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: