As part of our new weekly series, taking one newspaper from one day this week and scouring it for churnalism, here’s a survey of this Tuesday’s Daily Express. (NB the headlines listed are from the print edition, which can be different from those online.)
- ‘Pensions Disaster for 1 in 2 workers’, pages 1 & 4
The Express’s front page lead looks like it is based on a press release about a report compiled by financial services company, Scottish Widows. According to Churnalism.com, the story was 42% cut, 45% pasted.
The release received a slightly higher churn rating (42% cut, 55% pasted) on Guardian.co.uk (which might be explained by the article being shorter and more quotes being copied), and also received two churn cycles in The Times and the Telegraph. Unlike the Express, none of these papers ran the article on their front pages; indeed, the Guardian piece was online only.
This article appears to come from a press release about research conducted by Ohio University, suggesting that losing or gaining weight is healthier than not dieting at all. Though the Express has clearly engaged in some original journalism and not simply cut-and-pasted from the release: the article mentions ‘previous reports’ which came to the opposite conclusion (though without linking online or referring to them by name in print), and runs quotes from the British Dietetic Association and a nutritionist. On the other hand, you’ll need to read to paragraph five before finding out that the research was about dieting mice.
But just when you think there is nothing derivative this time, we spot a reference in the print edition to an article on pages 32 and 33, ‘Eat Right For Your Age’ (also promoted below the masthead on the front page). The feature looks oddly similar in layout to a January 2011 Benenden Healthcare article online. Odder still is the appearance of a quote by nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche from the Benenden piece. And even odder is the distinct similarity between a quote on sleeplessness from nutritionist Marilyn Glenville, and a post by her from March 2009.
- ‘Kate’s wedding dress on show’, page 6
This article seems to be heavily based upon a short Associated Press news release (82% cut, 61% pasted), which we managed to track down via this online news wire, describing itself as ‘The Affordable Business Wire of Choice For PR Professionals’. (There is a whole host of these: Business Wire, Free Press Release, Press Release 101, Source Wire, UK PR Wire, Your Story. We’re collecting them like a hobby, so if you know of any more, please do tell.)
- ‘Haunted House’, page 7 (also promoted on the front page)
This article looks like blatant TV PR, telling us about the time TV presenter Anne Diamond was spooked by a ghost haunting a house she wanted to buy. Within the first five paragraphs, we are told that Ms Diamond is ‘a regular guest on Channel 5’s current affairs show The Wright Stuff’ and is a ‘former Celebrity Big Brother contestant’. Coincidentally, the proprietor of the Express owns Channel 5 and Celebrity Big Brother will debut on the channel this August. Spooky.
The article also mentions TV shows Paranormal Nights and How Clean is My House. But of course the main purpose of the article is to let us know that Celebrity Ghost Stories UK will be screened on the Bio Channel on Thursday 9pm.
It takes up two thirds of a page, alongside another article…
This piece reports on a study by Dettol and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (LSTMH). No press release was found on the LSTMH or Dettol websites, but we did find it on a Middle Eastern ‘online business intelligence platform’ that has tailored news of the survey to a Middle East audience – and has rather honestly and transparently headed the article ‘press release’.
No original press release was found for this, but a bit of Googling led us to a news aggregator which helpfully references press officer contact details for Miami University and Association for Psychological Science. Presumably some sort of release was emailed to newsdesks. It would have saved us a bit of time if the Express had just sourced its article in a similar fashion, but then that’s perhaps wishful thinking.
So, six pieces that appear to be churn in the first 11 pages, three of which featured on the front page. After page 11 the paper shifts to columns, and celebrity gossip, until on page 19 we read about Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant, with information from Rooney’s twitter account and the picture Rooney tweeted. At least the article is clear about where it is sourced from.
Below it there is a ‘story’ titled ‘Cloudy2Clear Windows – Service with a Smile!’. But, although it looks like a news article it becomes clear, once you read it, that it’s advertorial. Only it isn’t labelled advertorial. Hmmm… perhaps a call to the ASA.
Brought to you from the team at Churnalism.com. If you spot any churn please let us know by emailing team AT churnalism DOT com.
Written by Gavin Freeguard, Laura MacPhee, Martin Moore and Camilla Schick.