Sneaking into Churnalism

I think I’ve wanted to be a journalist since the age of 13, dashing the hopes of my father who is still trying to shift me into media law. At first it was because I wanted to write. I’d always be scribbling stories, quotes, quick sketches down in one of my many infamous notebooks. And then it was because I loved talking to people; people were fascinating, they told you stories, not just with their words, but with their hands, their faces. Sometimes they cried, threw their hands up in the air in disgust, stamped their feet, danced around with glee. At any rate the way they moved when they told their stories was all very interesting. Perhaps that’s why I’ve moved away from written journalism. It’s all about the visual now. What people are seen to say, and how they say it is far more gratifying, in my opinion, than the written word.

Anyone who really knows me knows that I love my pictures. “Where are my cutaways?!” is something I yelp more often that I probably realise when editing news stories. I’ll tell anybody that will listen that I love a good focus pull. (Or shift in focus, whatever you want to call it.)

But now I’m being told by tutors and the rest of the world that it’s all about multimedia journalism these days. i.e. being able to shoot footage, interview for radio AND write for online.

Shoot footage? Pretty much sorted *turns off auto focus*

Interview for radio? *fiddles with sound levels* Right, good to go.

Write for online? ………. you want me to rewrite this press release? er, ok. *shrugs* Seems a bit dull to me. I want to be where the action is, give me a press pass and let’s go. Rewrite another press release?…………really?


And so Churnalism is born.

Churnalism, noun. Material that looks rather a lot like journalism, but is in fact churned out PR, and often a lot of twaddle. Phrase was coined by Nick Davies (another Guardian person), author of Flat Earth News.

I’m really not surprised. P.R. is big bucks. What company doesn’t want to look (and so feel) good?

No time, more content, smaller budget? What have the wires got? Fluff story about Number 10’s new cat? We’ll publish that.

The Guardian’s website have stuck up a Chris Atkins video (he’s a film-maker based in London apparently <– oh look, me not checking my facts) on Churnalism sneaking its way into what should be proper journalism.

clink the linky link

So my very own bit of Churnalism:

Leeds budget shrinking pains

Leeds Councillor, Keith Wakefield today spoke of  “painful decisions” that will be made  to cover a 90m shortfall in council funding.

The proposal will see 1,500 council jobs set to go next year with cuts in adult social care, and children’s services. The proposals also include the scrapping of the free city centre bus’ budget, leaving the service unlikely to survive. Wakefield is expected to urge colleagues to support the proposals later this week which aim to tackle a £50m cut in government funding. According to the Labour Councillor, Leeds, like many other northern cities, has received one of the worst settlements in the country, leaving locals to deal with the consquences.

In a speech to the rest of the council Wakefield said:

“We’ve done all we can to reduce the cost of running the council – but it’s not enough to manage the spending reductions being imposed on us.

“We’ve had to look at all areas of the council and identify how we can deliver further savings to meet the remaining funding gap, whilst continuing to protect services to vulnerable people.”

Proposals to tackle the cuts effectively will be put to the council’s executive board next weeks before going to a full council on 23rd February.


N.B please note that is out of date (ever so slightly)

Ah Churnalism. SNORE.

I’m hoping that because the broadcast media have to go and interview people face to face,  any involved in a potential churnalism will be sniffed out and promptly discarded.  Fingers crossed eh?

HannARGH x


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