Churnalism weekly: The Daily Mail, Tuesday 1st June

From this week we plan to start publishing ‘Churnalism weekly’, in which we’ll scour one newspaper’s articles over one day looking for evidence of churn.

We’re very grateful to Nigel Green this week, who identified a host of examples of possible churn in Tuesday’s Daily Mail (print edition). We’ve been through Nigel’s list looking for the press releases on which Mail’s articles may have been based, and added a few of our own.

This is what we’ve found so far (headlines from print edition, can be different online):

This article is based on a two studies, one by the CEBR and one from the IPPR. The pieces can’t have been hugely difficult to write given the helpful quotes from the thinktanks (Douglas McWilliams’ from the CEBR were used lots elsewhere too). The quotes make up 43% of the Mail’s article (in print, Nick Pearce’s quote is dropped from the online version).

This one looks like it’s based on a survey from Post Office Travel Insurance, claiming that ‘Human battery life runs down in 60 days‘. Readers are presumably supposed to read the survey and think ‘I really need a holiday’ – and what else do you need on that holiday? Post Office Travel Insurance.

The website gurgle.com had the bright idea of surveying British mums to ask what their children called their grandparents, and found ‘Granny’ was not the most popular (press release here). The survey might have been more convincing if it had included any historical data (i.e. to show if ‘Granny’ ever was the most popular name). The press release also included the unfortunate headline ‘Death of Granny’. The gurgle.com headline was not used by the Daily Mail, though the website did get a good mention.

Though we can’t find a press release online this story feels press release-ish, since it is about increased sales of mothballs, and the Telegraph has almost exactly the same story. If it is, then the most likely source is Robert Dyas, the store which – the Mail article helpfully reminds us – sells repellent spray and mothballs. Oddly though, the same Robert Dyas quote used by the Mail and the Telegraph was ‘said’ by different people (Nicole Bee in the Mail vs David Bywater in the Telegraph).

Police in Barnsley are reportedly going to start fining people £80 on the spot for swearing in public. So reports the Mail, the BBC, the Telegraph, and a host of others. No press release found as yet, but it would be a remarkable coincidence if all outlets published the same story on the same day.

Another survey here, this one from Divorce Online, suggesting that video game addiction is leading to couples splitting up. Though when one looks more closely at the figures it would appear that they are based on 15% of 200 unreasonable behaviour petitions filed with Divorce Online (i.e. a highly unrepresentative sample of 30 people), and that gaming addiction was made up only a part of their partner’s unreasonable behaviour. This one has a churn rating of 52% cut and 58% pasted.

Looks like this press release backfired slightly. BAT announced in early May that they would be launching the UK’s first ‘demi-slim’ cigarettes called Vogue. The Mail reports the launch but quotes criticisms of the launch from Cancer Research UK and Saatchi and Saatchi. Mind you, BAT can’t have been too put out since there is a photo of the new cigarette in the article and Hinesh Patel of BAT is quoted (taken from the press release).

An article about a new website that allows you to vote on the sexiest MP. Many other newspapers took the bait on this one too.

The ukulele – like mothballs – would appear to be back in fashion, according to this article, based on Research for the Musical Instrument Retail Conference. Sadly neither the research nor the press release appear to be online.

This research – from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), though commissioned by the Halifax – was covered not just in the Mail but in almost all the nationals. The Mail, to its credit, churned the press release less than some of the other papers. The Telegraph receives the biggest churn rating (29% cut, 47% pasted), the Mail article does not figure on churnalism.com.

Here the Mail reports on research done by the BBC History magazine’s editor, David Musgrove, for his book – to be published on 2nd June. Musgrove must have been chuffed to bits with the promotion of his book here and in the Guardian. Particularly since his quote was used in both. The articles in the Sun and the Mirror preferred just to list the places.

So, eleven articles, many of which appear to be based pretty closely on press releases in the first 30 pages.

There may well be more in the paper – though this is what we’ve been able to track down to date. In the good tradition of crowdsourcing, if you find any more please do pass them on.

Doing this has also made us realise that churnalism.com, while good at identifying copy-paste churn, misses lots more that isn’t directly copy-paste but is still closely derived from a press release.

Additional research by Laura MacPhee. Thanks to Nigel Green