The Uncomfortable Truth Behind the Journatic Byline Scandal
From Tech News and Analysis at GigaOm
As we described in our post — which was based on an interview with Journatic founder and former journalist Brian Timpone — the service uses freelancers and staff to compile the kind of local news that typically appears in weekly community newspapers or the local section of a daily like the Tribune: that is, announcements about local sporting events, residents who have won awards, council meetings and so on. In many cases, the content is produced by a local staffer who pulls information from a database or website (or in some cases calls a local business) along with freelancers who work in the Philippines and elsewhere, and are paid either an hourly rate or on a per-piece basis.
Accelerating the death of newspapers or adapting to it?
In a recent interview with the NPR show This American Life, a staffer who worked for Journatic described how the company would sometimes use fake bylines on its content — allegedly to disguise the fact that they were compiled by non-residents — and also how reporters working for the service in other locations would try to cover up the fact that they were not in the community they were writing about. Ryan Smith told the Poynter Institute’s Anna Tarkov that he came to believe that this behavior was wrong, in part because it was doing a disservice to local journalism: