Churnalism Weekly: Financial Times, Tuesday 19th July

In part eight of our weekly series – scouring one newspaper from one day this week for churnalism – we take a look at Tuesday’s Financial Times. (NB You will not be able to view the online articles beyond the paywall unless you subscribe to the FT. Headlines listed below are from the print edition which can be different from those online.)

  • ‘Gold breaches £1,000 barrier,’ page 1, by Jack Farchy and Richard Milne

This story, printed on the FT’s front page, cannot be found on their website, but this is a very similar one – a ‘first draft’ perhaps, by Jack Farchy only. This in turn is very similar to another Jack Farchy/Richard Milne piece from the 18th July, ‘Investors head for havens in debt storm’. Some self-churn going on, perhaps?

The FT are generally good at linking to data and press releases in their online versions of stories, as with this report. Obviously this tactic isn’t much good on paper… Also, other quotes, for example from KPMG’s Richard Fleming, get no other results when Googled, and so appear to have been originally sourced.

This piece appears to be churned (39% cut, 47% pasted) from this Federation of Small Businesses press release. Online, the article does link to the FSB website but, bizarrely, not the press release specifically.

Again, this online version of this story includes embedded links, but only to other FT magazine pieces about the organisations discussed, rather than links to their websites. The article seems to use this press release from the Unquoted Companies’ Group (via Institute for Family Businesses website), with most of the churn appearing to be just quotes.

While it may be odd that the FT linked to more of its own articles rather than the IFB website or the UCG press release, it’s still more than can be said for the Telegraph, who churned the same press release with an overlap of 1603 characters (45% cut, 25% pasted).

  • ‘Online gambling groups face tougher taxation regulation,’ page 4, by Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent

Another possible case of ‘self-churn’- this article doesn’t show up anywhere online, but there’s a very similar one by the same journalist on the FT website, five days previously.

Comparing the two articles ‘by eye,’ it seems that this Associated Press wire (via Yahoo News) may have been used as the basis for the piece, but the journalist has also provided additional information. Again, contrast this with the Telegraph’s version of the story, 100% churned from the wire and yet with no mention of the Associated Press.

This article appears to rely heavily on this press release from the National Association of Home Builders, although the online version links to the press release.

The ‘World News’ section, pages 5- 9, has reports from bylined correspondents and reporters all over the world, before giving way to the ‘Companies and Markets’ section…

The online version is longer and appeared the day before its reincarnation in the paper. The journalist cites a report from TGB Digital, and so could well have used this press release from TGB Digital (via socialmediaportal.com) and the report itself.

No churn result comes up when the press release is entered into the churn engine, although it seems that many of the quotes from Simon Mansell in the piece appear elsewhere: on CNN, TIME.com and advancedtelevision.com.

Again the FT show their working and link to the source of this article – the piece is clearly based on the Financial Reporting Council Annual Review.

The journalist may have used this press release for the basic facts, but other quotes in the piece again seem to be originally sourced (for example, the comments from bankers).

  • ‘News Digest,’ on page 21, various journalists

In this section the FT credits wire copy. For example, ‘Halliburton beats expectations’ is marked clearly with ‘Reuters, New York’ (although no specific journalist is named).

On other ‘News Digest’ stories, the full versions are online with links to sources, including ‘China’s HNA vies for GE SeaCo’.

When it comes to linking to sources, the FT is right on the money. In print, sources are cited; online, they’re hyperlinked (though sometimes, oddly, not to the specific document in question). On the other side of the coin, there’s a bit of ‘self-churning’, with articles apparently building on earlier ones as if they were drafts or useful background, as well as some churn. But on the whole – and in an environment where increasingly, financial PRs ‘have become central figures in the game’, according to one of the FT’s previous editors – the FT’s transparency, sourcing and original research around wire copy deserves a good deal of credit.

Christopher Cook, FT Education Correspondent, replies on twitter (@xtophercook): A bit mean to call that churnalism… Markets reports get updated thru the day, so several versions for diff editions get made.

More generally, online rolling news pieces can’t help but use the same quotes/facts as the final piece in the paper.

We often overwrite the rolling story with the final version. But not always, so you sometimes get previous iterations of the same story, dated a day older.

Brought to you by the team at Churnalism.com. If you spot any churn please let us know by emailing team AT churnalism DOT com.

By Gavin Freeguard & Lucy Snow