The Houston Chronicle has learned that it published “hundreds” of stories with phony bylines on its network of websites through its partnership with online content outsourcing firm Journatic.
It is just one of the publishers to have suffered a black eye because of its alliance with the firm, which until yesterday, was backed by Tribune Co. The publisher severed ties with Journatic and resumed oversight of its TribLocal publications, but not before learning that in addition to phony bylines the company had plagiarized content from other sources and fabricated quotes in stories, according to Poynter.
The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America, meantime, called for publishers to discontinue using providers that rely on content generated by offshore contributors. The union, in a statement, demanded an “immediate end to any deceptive practices involving outsourced and off-shored journalism.”
The firestorm surrounding Journatic erupted earlier this month when a Philippines-based writer for the firm copped to using fake bylines on stories he’d written while interviewed on “This American Life” (see Dateline July 9, 2012).
“The great hollowing out of American journalism, which now appears to be led by publishers, will deal a death blow to quality and trusted journalism,” the Guild said in the statement. The Guild said it demands “complete transparency,” and called for publishers to include legitimate bylines that identify writers and their location.
The Guild also cited a report that the Tribune Co. laid off a number of American-based journalists and replaced them with Journatic employees.