May 7, 2013
The Sunlight Foundation and Media Standards Trust have collaborated on a joint project to address plagiarism in the media. Their creation? A web tool and browser extension, Churnalism US. We took a look at The Sunlight Foundation’s recent article on it: “Churnalism: Discover When News Copies from Other Sources.”
The browser extension will be available for Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox (full approval pending). The process works by enabling Churnalism to extract article text from a whitelist of common news sites. When it finds a match, it lets you know when the text you are reading might have been copied from another source. The capabilities of this extension are driven by open-source text analysis technology.
Curious about how this would look? We were too, but the luckily this article dove into those details:
“For some anecdotal evidence from my experience using Churnalism, I’ve found a number of instances of articles about science topics relying heavily on press releases and study summaries. For example, take this piece on the BBC website about epilepsy and migraines. Churnalism found a significant portion of the text came from this press release in EurekaAlert! and let me know with a ribbon notification on the top of the page. By tapping the Show Me button on the notification, Churnalism overlays a side-by-side display of the article and the possible match with copied text highlighted for easy comparison.”
With the need for information to be delivered in real-time and the proliferation of sources available to an ever expanding and niche-oriented audience, it is no wonder that there are enough “churnalists” to warrant this browser extension. Since we curate, we must be churnalists too.
Phi Beta Iota: This can probably be applied to checking allegedly original term papers by students at all levels. They are not learning how to search beyond the 2% indexed online, they are not learning how to think, and they are not learning how to discriminate, distill, and disseminate new ideas.