Churnalism / Branding + digital product

Proportion of press
releases being passed
as news

Pressure on journalists to publish first

Churnalism, a blend of ‘churn’ and ‘journalism’, describes the reuse of source material (press releases) for a news article instead of original research.

Media Standards Trust is a charity that develops digital tools for transparency and accountability of the press. They developed the technology in-house to create Churnalism.com to raise awareness, identify churnalism and encourage original journalism. The digital product compared press releases side-by-side with news articles and scored them for their ‘Churn’.

MST commissioned Doublesided to design Churnalism.com’s brand and website. We used a woodcut illustration of a milkmaid churning butter whilst reading a book which fits well with the churnalism concept. The black & white woodcut theme follows through to overall design, with a bold yellow to highlight churned journalism.
Services
Creative direction
Branding
Web design
Frontend CSS

Matching press releases to published news

Users can paste in press releases or review submitted content. The results show news articles with similar content, includes a percentage of text cut and pasted into the article and a visualisation graphic.

News and press release side-by-side

The side-by-side comparison displays the press release on the left with the news article on the right. As the mouse rolls over the yellow bars of the news article’s visualisation, the churned text is highlighted in yellow on the press release, indicating the proportion of copied words.

Not all churnalism is terrible; some press releases are of public interest like medical breakthroughs and government announcements. The site’s intention is to provide transparency as to which parts are copied.

Encouraging discovery

The most popular articles listed kept appearing on the homepage, burying other fascinating content. An Explore page was created to randomly show content in a Pinterest-style board to encourage discovery.
“We were so happy with Double Sided that we have offered them every subsequent piece of web design work we have commissioned.”
Martin Moore – Director
Media Standards Trust

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