Churnalism is a form of journalism in which press releases, wire stories and other forms of pre-packaged material are used to create articles in newspapers and other news media in order to meet increasing pressures of time and cost without undertaking further research or checking.There's even a tool that allows you to detect churnalism (or at least churnalism that appears in national newspapers in the UK, on Sky News, or on the BBC). Martin tried it on 18 stories released by the press office of the University College London and got the following hits:
- New 'thunder-thighs' dinosaur discovered - Telegraph (97% copied), Independent (85%), BBC (45%)
- The first single-fingered dinosaur - Mirror (61%), Mail (60%), BBC (41%), Times (55%)
- Love: it's all the same to the brain - Telegraph (82%), Times (48%)
- Beams of electrons link Saturn with its moon Enceladus - Mail (60%)
I tried a search on a couple of recent biology-related press releases from the National Science Foundation and neither of them came up. I doubt that U.S. national newspapers are doing that much better than their counterparts in the U.K. I suspect that merely means that U.K. newspapers are, properly, reporting on research coming out of labs in the U.K.