A tiny but brazen piece of churnalism has just amused me in a post on WITsend, a blog on ComputerWeekly.com that is ‘…a place for women in IT…tackling issues facing women and other minorities working in technology’. The post, dated 12 January and headed ‘Frances Allen: first woman to win Turing Award’, begins
Frances Allen was
has becomethe first woman to receive the prestigious Turing Award since it was set up in 1966.
Why did the author first write ‘has become’ and later correct it to ‘was’? And why did she draw attention to the change by retaining the struck-through words? The explanation is at the end:
Correction: this story is true, but it’s not new! Allen received the award in 2007, no idea why I got sent a press release on it now.. sorry!
So she took a single press release, and without even the slightest cross-checking – not even a quick glance in Wikipedia – she generated her blog post. Wish I could be so fluent. I have been all over the Net in the course of checking this and that, just for this tiny squib.
In case any reader does not know the term, ‘churnalism’ is the journalistic practice of recycling press releases as news with only the minimum of rewriting. It is a Bad Thing, and the blog author should care, because it is one of those issues facing women and other minorities working in technology. And men. And majorities. And people not working in technology.
When this woman got egg on her face, she did not even have the grace to be embarrassed by the exposure of her sloth. Instead of making the change silently, hoping no-one would notice, she flaunted this decline in standards (can you see what’s coming? Yes …) She should have hidden the decline. Phil Jones could have given her some pointers.