Gotcha! Major newspapers run story based on fake press release

The product was called the ‘chastity garter,’ and the Daily Mail and Chicago Tribune published stories about it. Too bad it was a fake.

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 (CJR) conducted wrote about an experiment with the help of by film director Chris Atkins, a man with a history of successful hoaxes.

CJR reports:

“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.”

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