Who didn’t see this coming?
Outsourcing items for the All-Star game and for the Olympic team have become commonplace.
How about firing American journalists and replacing them with writers in a foreign country to handle community news? This had disaster written all over it.
Now the Chicago Tribune on Friday night said it has suspended its use of content provider “Journatic” to produce editorial material for its suburban TribLocal publications after the discovery of plagiarized and fabricated elements in a story published this week.
Founded in 2006, Journatic, a Chicago-based company had come under scrutiny since the public radio program This American Life reported two weeks ago that it was using low-paid writers overseas to produce items under fake bylines that were published in print and online by several major U.S. newspapers. Journatic provides editorial content for a number of newspaper groups including the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
It appears that the McClatchy-owned Kansas City Star has not outsourced its journalism to another country. However, it has been reported previously that some display advertising work has been outsourced to India.
Journatic and its founder and CEO, Brian Timpone, have been criticized by news media observers for relying on “offshore” editorial staffers in the Philippines who are paid a fraction of what journalists in the U.S. make. Timpone has countered that the Philippine workers only did data research, and that the writing and editing was done by higher-paid staff in the U.S.
The use of aliases, also considered a violation of the Tribune’s editorial ethics policy, prompted an internal investigation by the newspaper. Gerould Kern, the Tribune’s senior vice president and editor, said in a note to staff that the investigation is not yet compete.
“These are the most egregious sins in journalism,” said Kern. “We do not tolerate these acts at the Chicago Tribune under any circumstances, whether from a staff member or an outside supplier like Journatic.”
The newspaper’s parent, Tribune Co., this spring made an investment of an undisclosed amount in Chicago-based Journatic, which provides coverage for all of TribLocal’s 90 town websites and 22 weekly print editions. TribLocal is part of the Chicago Tribune Media Group’s Targeted Media division.
It is now being reported that Journatic’s editorial chief has resigned.