Saturday, August 15, 2009

Churnalism Matters!

Churnalism - the practice of building a story off the work of another reporter without independent investigation of your own - is bad news for journalists AND readers. The "Facebook and Poor Grades" story is a perfect example of how a misreported story takes on a life of its own. The gist of it is that the Times of London reported causation from an OSU study when none was claimed and before the poster was presented. That report led to similar reports in a variety of media - the majority of which parroted the Times story without verification. The result - an erroneous report being widely reported. The links below will take you to firsthand accounts by the major players:

This story of OSU's Aryn Karpinski's research presentation poster first caught my attention with this August 14th sciencebase post by David Bradley.

His post links to this Sunday Times of London piece from April 12th. It was reported, without the use of Embargoed material, before the poster was presented on April 16th.

The ensuing hubbub led OSU posting Karpinski's poster next to their announcement about the poster and research with an interview with Karpinski

Earle Holland,
assis vp for research comm at OSU, weighed in with a May 8th piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, "Facebook and Procrastination:Runaway coverage mistakes correlation for causation." He also wrote a piece for the NASW summer newsletter.

Pasek, More, & Hargittai of UIC produced their own
piece about the media sensation and the original Karpinski study in First Monday on May 4th.

Karpinski's response to their study also appeared on First Monday on May 4th, and was linked to in the CJR piece by Holland.

On May 4th, First Monday also included a clarification by Pasek, More, & Hargittai to Karpinski's response.

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