Spinning the media: important new research from the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism

Public relations content across 10 Australian newspapers, Sept 7-11 2009. Source: Crikey/Australian Centre for Independent Journalism

Crikey and the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism have combined to today release the findings of their important new research project, entitled Spinning the Media. It finds that “over half your news is spin”, that is, written directly or indirectly from press releases and driven in some part by the PR industry.

This impressive research project examined 2203 articles in 10 major daily newspapers during one five-day week  in September 2009. (Of course, the irony is that this story is also PR-driven, in the sense that I am reporting on the findings of a research project which has been announced through a story on a news website – which shows you how difficult it can be to source genuinely novel news for any journalist).

The key finding for me was this one:

Of 2203 articles, more than 500 or 24% had no significant extra perspective, source or content added by reporters.

That figure is truly scary – indicating that approximately one quarter of the daily newspaper’s news content is simply regurgitated media releases from government or corporate sources.

I’ve reproduced the key graphs from the study over the fold:


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