In response to the recent uproar over Google News returning company press releases, Karlin Lillington writes ...it seems to me that a lot of newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations also routinely publish/broadcast items that are basically just rewritten, unquestioned press releases and government statements, which also aren't clearly distinguished from 'actual' news articles... Well, its even worse that that.
In fact, much of what is not just rewritten company press releases is just rewritten from other papers. I saw the same misinformation quoted and requoted from paper to paper as they read each other's stories and rewrote them. I wrote about this a little in my essay on Living With the Red-Billed Oxpecker. Reporters get some little tidbit of information and have to file a 600 word story, so they go back and quote themselves and others to backfill. The worst are the weekly tabloids since they almost always have an ax to grind, so they add their slant to the story with what they wish were true. I even know of an instance where a monthly magazine picked up the weekly tabloid story and spun it even more afield. Of course, these people never call to verify their facts---that would spoil the fun.