Last month, we reported on the new website Churnalism.com
, in which you copy and paste your press release into a box and the site tells you if and where it ran verbatim. Currently, the site tracks only U.K. media outlets.
The term churnalism refers to a news outlet passing of a press release—or large chunks of it—as reported news.
To see churnalism in action, the Columbia Journalism Review
conducted wrote about an experiment with the help of
by film director Chris Atkins, a man with a history of successful hoaxes
“It did not take Chris long before he had some success. He invented a product, the ‘chastity garter,’ to be worn by women while their partners were away. Should the woman’s pulse rise above 120 BPM, and the moisture on her skin pass a particular level, the press release read, a text message would automatically be sent to her partner.”
A “wonderfully amateur photo” was attached to the press release, according to CJR
Sounds ridiculous, right?
Well, it was good enough for the U.K.’s Daily Mail
and the Daily Star
, which published the story. The story then spread to the Chicago Tribune
, Florida Today
, Times of India
, and more, according to CJR
You can read about more media pranking from Atkins at the blog Media Standards Trust