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The website,, created by charity the Media Standards Trust, allows readers to paste press releases into a "churn engine". It then compares the text with a constantly updated database of more than 3m articles. The results, which give articles a "churn rating", show the percentage of any given article that has been reproduced from publicity material.

The Guardian was given exclusive access to prior to launch. It revealed how all media organisations are at times simply republishing, verbatim, material sent to them by marketing companies and campaign groups.

Meanwhile, an independent film-maker, Chris Atkins, has revealed how he duped the BBC into running an entirely fictitious story about Downing Street's new cat to coincide with the site's launch.

The director created a Facebook page in the name of a fictitious character, "Tim Sutcliffe", who claimed the cat – which came from Battersea Cats Home – had belonged to his aunt Margaret. The story appeared in the Daily Mail and Metro, before receiving a prominent slot on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Atkins, who was not involved in creating, uses spoof stories to highlight the failure of journalists to corroborate stories. He was behind an infamous prank last year that led to the BBC running a news package on a hoax Youtube video purporting to show urban foxhunters.

The creation of is likely to unnerve overworked journalists and the press officers who feed them. "People don't realise how much churn they're being fed every day," said Martin Moore, director of the trust, which seeks to improve standards in news. "Hopefully this will be an eye-opener."

Will Dr. Goebbels please pick up the white courtesy phone?

NOTE Clearly, Corrente is in the wrong business. We should start making shit up. Especially about cats.

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Submitted by gmanedit on

There was a time I read five newspapers a day: the New York Times, New York Newsday, the Wall Street Journal (which was then an excellent record of white-collar crime), and two more. Seeing the same stories turn up across them taught me how much of a paper consisted of press releases.

Then I got a magazine job, and the stuff started coming to me directly.