Updates about Journatic
There's been quite a lot of fallout in the two weeks since we aired our story about Journatic (episode 468, "Switcheroo"). In case you missed it: Journatic is a company that outsources labor to generate “hyperlocal” news content for newspapers all over the country. To create this content cheaply, it uses offshore researchers and writers, especially from the Philippines. The detail in our story that got newspaper editors worked up, though, was this: In real estate stories done by Journatic's sister company, Blockshopper, writers (both American and Filipino) were routinely using pseudonyms, which meant fake names were making their way into major daily newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle, and others.
Evidently, the editors of those papers didn't know this was going on. And once they did, they were very unhappy. Several papers have dropped Journatic, and there's some strife at Journatic internally as well. Its editorial chief quit.
The Chicago Tribune (Tribune Co. is a major Journatic investor, by the way) launched an internal investigation, and then suspended its use of Journatic content.
Here's media blogger Jim Romenesko on the subject. His post includes the internal memo sent to Tribune employees. Also in this post: Journatic's editorial chief explains why he just quit.
Here's Poynter's roundup of newspapers that have canceled their deals with Journatic.
And here's another from Poynter, showing how Journatic used fake bylines on other local news stories (Journatic's CEO had insisted the fake bylines were limited to real estate stories).