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Debate over journalists’ use of press releases

A proposal to label news stories based on press releases as “advertorials” has been defeated in a debate on ‘churnalism’ orgaised by the Media Standards Trust.

Filmmaker Chris Atkins, who has hoaxed the press with fake press releases to highlight churnalism, claimed that marking articles based on press release material as advertorial would help “rebuild” trust in journalists.

However, head of multimedia at Trinity Mirror regionals David Higgerson argued that the churnalism debate “demonised” press releases unfairly.

He said it did not take into account whether journalists had checked out the facts contained in them and that “advertorial” was already used to describe articles and supplements that were guaranteed a place in a newspaper and were paid-for by a client.


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  • July 8, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Maybe Mr Atkins should sit at the sharp end of newspapers for a while.

    Churnalism might be a good word for it – I tend to prefer the term ‘realism’.

    Reporters are under constant pressure to fill space, with often very little time to actually ‘do the job’. And, sometimes, press releases are actually relevant and interesting – not just advertising guff.

    It’s not ideal, but we don’t work in an industry that even pretends to be ideal any more.

    Has Atkins got nothing better to do? Because I know journalists have, but don’t have the time.

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  • July 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Not much consideration given here to the police/fire/ambulance press releases of this world here either.

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  • July 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Good quality, well researched stories with genuine news value are a service to busy news desks. I am an experienced journalist who prides myself in unearthing unusual PR stories and showing companies and individuals the difference between advertising and the sort of stories the media want – it is all down to having news sense no matter who you work for.

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