Journatic plagiarism scandal: When outsourcing falters

The Chicago Tribune has suspended its relationship with Journatic – the third-party local news provider of its suburban TribLocal publications, Poynter. reported.
“We made the decision after it came to light Friday that a sports story published in this week’s Deerfield TribLocal contained elements that were plagiarized and fabricated,” the Chicago Tribune noted in its announcement on Friday.
One day after the announcement, Mike Fourcher, the production manager of Journatic, submitted his resignation.

“I did so because the founders and I fundamentally disagree about ethical and management issues as they relate to a successful news business,” Fourcher wrote in his blog.
Journatic began its operations in 2006 with an undisclosed sum of investment from the Chicago Tribune’s parent company, Tribune Co. It produced content for TribLocal publications — 90 town websites and 22 weekly print editions since then, according to The Associated Press.

“The issue has sparked discussion throughout the news industry, which is struggling to cut costs while still trying to serve local markets, sometimes by outsourcing specialized content,” the AP noted.
In explaining his resignation, Foucher commented that the hyperlocal news provider’s core premise is sound. “Most data and raw information can be managed much more efficiently outside the traditional newsroom; and, in order for major market community news to be commercially viable, it needs to be conducted on a broader scale than ever before,” he noted.
“The company’s model falters, however, when it attempts to treat community news reporting the same way as data reporting. Inevitably, as you distribute reporting work to an increasingly remote team, you break traditional bonds of trust between writers and editors until they are implicitly discouraged from doing high quality work for the sake of increasing production efficiency and making more money,” Fourcher pointed out.

GateHouse announced it will also end its deal with Journatic.
Echoing Fourcher’s viewpoint, David Arkin, vice president of content and audience for GateHouse Media, wrote in an e-mailed reply to Poynter that “Journatic’s model, at least for us, was based on an agreed number of stories that would be published each month. But sometimes production goals got in the way of good content decisions.”
Earlier, Journatic was also discovered to have used a number of false bylines in its products for Chicago Sun-Times.
This entry was posted in cost cutting, hyperlocal, Journalists, outsourcing. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s