Churnalism: Holding Journalists Accountable

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by flicker user anniemole

When it comes to writing, we all have to face down deadlines. Whether it’s a student working on a term paper, a librarian trying to come up with a blog post, or a journalist covering a breaking story. And, all too often we are all tempted to copy and paste just a line or two from someone else.

Well, things may have just gotten a little tougher for journalists in the US seeking to take a shortcut. The Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization who’s mission is to make government more transparent, has partnered with Media Standards Trust, from the UK, to release Churnalism US.

The service, delivered as a website or browser extension, checks articles against other published works to see if text has been lifted from somewhere else. Based on an open source search platform, Churnalism compares the submitted text against a selection of sites that publish government and corporate press releases. It then displays the results side-by-side, highlighting and linking suspicious text blocks.

Besides being a tool to catch plagiarism from deadline-crunched journalists, Churnalism can also serve to detect those who are purposefully misrepresenting their subjects. Sometimes authors with a particular agenda will selectively quote their subjects in order to make a story more juicy or to try and influence their readers. In its side-by-side comparison mode, Churnalism can make it easier to spot such selective quoting.

Check it out, catching deceptive journalists has never been so fun!

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