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Chicago Tribune Stops the Journatic Presses

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the news-on-the-cheap dept.

Businesses 62

theodp writes "In April, the Chicago Tribune touted its investment in and use of news outsourcer Journatic. 'We're excited to partner with Journatic, both as an investor and as a customer,' said Dan Kazan, the Trib's Sr. VP of Investments. 'Journatic will expand Tribune's ability to deliver relevant hyperlocal content to our readers, and we believe that many other publishers and advertisers will benefit from its services as well.' That was then. In a Friday-the-13th letter to readers, the Tribune announced a plagiarized and fabricated story has prompted the paper to suspend its relationship with Journatic. The move comes two weeks after Journatic's standards and practices were called into question by This American Life, which noted several Journatic-produced stories had appeared this year on TribLocal online with false bylines. Explaining why he went public about his experience at Journatic, reporter Ryan Smith said he felt 'people should know how their local newspapers are being hollowed out.'"

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62 comments

The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (5, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40662909)

Journatic: Go with us and you can fire all those expensive reporters on the ground and we'll replace them with cheap freelancers for next-to-nothing! And you won't take any hit in quality, honest. Hey...would we lie to you, pal?

Chicago Tribune: Yay, sounds great! We like money. And words are hard, 'specially the long ones.

Journatic: While we're at it, just between us, we also have some prime Florida real estate we can let you have for a steal...

Chicago Tribune: Yay, more money!!!

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40662941)

Yay, more rich envy on slash dot.

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#40663259)

Yay, more rich envy on slash dot.

Do you understand what the word "fraud" means? Because selling content-free stories under fake bylines is about as clear-cut a case as I can think of.

There's nothing wrong with getting rich honestly. The problem is that so few people do, and the much larger number of people getting rich dishonestly has a lot to do with that.

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40664241)

Do you understand what the word "fraud" means? Because selling content-free stories under fake bylines is about as clear-cut a case as I can think of.

Yes. It means "opportunity". I... don't see what your point is?

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40664559)

There's nothing wrong with getting rich honestly. The problem is that so few people do, and the much larger number of people getting rich dishonestly has a lot to do with that.

"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime." -- Balzac (paraphrase of "Le secret des grandes fortunes sans cause apparente est un crime
oublie, parce qu' il a ete proprement fait")

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40665493)

The sad part is you appear to believe it's socially and morally acceptable to believe this. It is not. I'm also guessing that you would be the first person to be jumping up and down crying "FOUL" as soon as you get shafted.

Keep doing nothing, or promoting what we are doing wrong. We all saw how this worked out for our friends in Germany, Russia, China, etc.. etc.. etc..

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663555)

Journatic: Go with us and you can fire all those expensive reporters on the ground and we'll replace them with cheap freelancers for next-to-nothing! And you won't take any hit in quality, honest. Hey...would we lie to you, pal?

Chicago Tribune: Yay, sounds great! We like money. And words are hard, 'specially the long ones.

Journatic: While we're at it, just between us, we also have some prime Florida real estate we can let you have for a steal...

Chicago Tribune: Yay, more money!!!

What "hit in quality"?

When the standards are Jayson Blair, Janet Cooke, and Dan Rather, the only thing bad about plagiarism and fabrication is getting caught.

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663869)

'Journatic will expand Tribune's ability to deliver relevant hyperbolic content to our readers,...

Fixed that for them.

Re:The Ole' Chicago Sucker-Roll (1)

AssholeMcGee (2521806) | about 2 years ago | (#40669433)

The story pretty explains the entire news media..."" plagiarized and fabricated stories "" This is the problem with the newspapers and TV press is, whatever it takes to make a buck or gain a rating, and they could careless about who or what they destroy in the process. It is both the left and right that are causing this.. Nobody wants to report truth, only sensationalism..

The This American Life Program (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40662957)

For some reason there was no link to the original source that kinda got the scoop. So here's the link to 'Switcheroo' [thisamericanlife.org] which is This American Life's episode that covered this. It's free to stream, you can click the third link to Act II [thisamericanlife.org] just to hear the coverage of this thing. I listened to it on the radio when it aired and sent it around as I found it really interesting (also a follow up here [poynter.org]). There's a funny part where Ryan Smith is revealing everything about Journatic and he makes a comment about how it's not what journalism is supposed to be and Sarah Koenig says, "You are so fired. You realize that, right?" And then there's this odd pause and he says "Yeah, I am I guess. I'm okay with that." Another great part of that clip is when the owner of Journatic (CEO Brian Timpone) comes on and openly talks about it and defends his company (quite unsuccessfully, in my opinion). But hats off to him, he is a huge fan of TAL and so instead of giving one of those canned "could not be reached for comment" they got a real person arguing for his business venture. He actually argues that this saves newspapers money and therefore allows them report on the important stuff while outsourcing the inane stuff to Filipino freelancers who get absolutely no credit (and ridiculously low wages) for their (often correspondingly subpar) work.

Re:The This American Life Program (4, Insightful)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 2 years ago | (#40663179)

He actually argues that this saves newspapers money and therefore allows them report on the important stuff while outsourcing the inane stuff to Filipino freelancers who get absolutely no credit (and ridiculously low wages) for their (often correspondingly subpar) work.

You'd be surprised, behind a lot of what appear to be scummy businesses are people who really believe they're doing the world a great service. From seminar leaders to pyramid schemes to cubicle monkeys, a significant percentage of people really believe in what they do for a living.

Re:The This American Life Program (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663603)

It's called acting. Trust me, I've been in sales. You can't sell others if you don't sell yourself first.

Re:The This American Life Program (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | about 2 years ago | (#40663755)

You'd be surprised, behind a lot of what appear to be scummy businesses are people who really believe they're doing the world a great service. From seminar leaders to pyramid schemes to cubicle monkeys, a significant percentage of people really believe in what they do for a living.

and I believe the clinical term for that is a Sociopath

Re:The This American Life Program (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40665531)

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" -- Upton Sinclair

Hyperlocal (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#40662959)

Does that mean "what's happening in this group of 5 houses in this cul-de-sac"?

Seems either pointless, boring, or hyper-gossipy.

Re:Hyperlocal (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40663531)

Seems either pointless, boring, or hyper-gossipy.

Hows that different from non-Hyperlocal newspapers?

Hyperlocal spam might be more interesting than non-hyperlocal spam. There's a Cabella's around 50 miles away, and I get spam for it, that spam is useless to me. Hyperlocal spam would be my neighborhood Gander Mountain, there's at least theoretically a chance I'd find that useful.

I'm not sure what the point is of a newspaper in 2012. My young son asked me about newspapers, and I explained it as "A tiny little part of the internet, printed out yesterday, and delivered to your house". He's completely uninterested. Everyone in my generation knows we're supposed to feel newspapers are important, maybe a sense of guilt at not subscribing. Rather like the donation campaigns for the Ballet at work, no one wants to go but we've all been socialized to believe its important. However, newspapers are so far off the modern cultural radar, that my kids don't even get the point. They're simply doomed. You know you're in big trouble when the conversation switches from "you're no longer relevant" to "what are you?"

Re:Hyperlocal (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663831)

But this isn't about the newspapers as a medium. It's about the content they publish.
Even if traditional newspapers migrate to the Internet they still have to offer a modicum of quality content to remain relevant. Let's not confuse the content issue with the medium of delivery issue, even if both are relevant.

Even in the Internet era you still need journalists to corelate and verify facts, to uncover hidden issues, to give stories the personal touch, and last but not least, to write with professional and even artistic command of the language. Sure, you can try to use machine-generated or outsourced content, but this story has shown exactly how insipid that kind of content is. This very story would have never been created by Journatic, it took a real journalist to write it.

It's cool that we're switching to a world where information doesn't flow only one way like it was with old TV, radio and newspapers... but it doesn't mean that we don't need oversight, validation and professionalism anymore.

Re:Hyperlocal (1)

TheTerseOne (2447418) | about 2 years ago | (#40664019)

"Newspapers: A tiny little part of the internet, printed out yesterday, and delivered to your house"

Thank you for supplying my new sig.

Re:Hyperlocal (2)

AdamWill (604569) | about 2 years ago | (#40667235)

Newspapers - also usually quite good at attribution...

Re:Hyperlocal (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#40673075)

Newspapers - also usually quite good at attribution...

LOL OK "TheTerseOne" you have formal written permission to use my quote.

Re:Hyperlocal (2)

ak3ldama (554026) | about 2 years ago | (#40664211)

I disagree. Newspapers are extremely important. Maybe not on "paper" but the news and information they can provide is amazingly important. This weekend I bought the local newspaper, on accident. It was in the news stand box of the bigger city's newspaper box. It had an excellent article describing the hardships of the local townships as they deal with increased costs of maintaining their roads, while not getting enough taxation dollars from the wind electric generators. The county, state, and schools get more than their fair share of funds all the while the township keeps the roads maintained and is spending more money than they take in. How does this get fixed? The state legislature set the rates and is now unreceptive to attempts to change the dissemination of tax funds. Local townships can't up their taxes in any fair way. Should they close those roads to the wind towers? (I think they should... force the issue and make those with the real $$$ make change happen.) Anyways I had never heard of this issue till Sunday while sitting there relaxing and reading the paper. It _is_ sitting on the front page of their website. [brookingsregister.com] However I have found the on paper medium of newspapers much more refined than their to date attempts on the web.

Re:Hyperlocal (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about 2 years ago | (#40666207)

I'm not sure what the point is of a newspaper in 2012.

The point is the same as it was 50 years ago. The point is to get in-depth news and opinion.

My young son asked me about newspapers, and I explained it as "A tiny little part of the internet, printed out yesterday, and delivered to your house".

You can read newspapers online, so your whining about the fact that it's up to (gasp!) 24 hours out of date is irrelevant. The complaint that it's "a tiny little part of the internet" is even sillier. What do you actually want to do, read the whole internet every day?

He's completely uninterested. Everyone in my generation knows we're supposed to feel newspapers are important, maybe a sense of guilt at not subscribing.

No, not "everyone." I don't know what generation you're from, but every generation old enough to read contains at least some people who do think newspapers are important, and who don't feel any guilt because they do subscribe. So let's get rid of the over-generalization and think a bit about what you're really saying. What you're really saying is that you belong to the majority that gets their news from sources that are not as good as newspapers. Sources like crappy local TV news, Fox News, and that story about the cute bunnies that your sister emailed you the link to.

Rather like the donation campaigns for the Ballet at work, no one wants to go but we've all been socialized to believe its important.

No, not "no one." I enjoy the ballet myself, and I go several times a year with my wife. So, to clean up your sloppy reasoning again, what's really going on is that some people like ballet and some don't, some read newspapers and some don't.

However, newspapers are so far off the modern cultural radar, that my kids don't even get the point.

Where do you think people got their news in 1975? Most of them got it from local TV news, not newspapers. In general, the majority of the population in every civilization, in every era, have been either unable to think deeply about events and issues or uninterested in doing so. That hasn't changed, and probably never will.

Re:Hyperlocal (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about a year and a half ago | (#40741359)

What you're really saying is that you belong to the majority that gets their news from sources that are not as good as newspapers. Sources like crappy local TV news, Fox News, and that story about the cute bunnies that your sister emailed you the link to.

While I know you don't directly say this, the implication here seems to be that newspapers are in general better than the news you'd be getting on TV or the Internet. Which is, quite frankly, absurd. I don't read newspapers because I find that, at best, they're around 90% garbage pop culture and sports. And I'm talking about papers like the New York Times. Was in a hotel recently for a couple weeks and got a free USA Today every morning -- there was maybe one article in the entire paper that was actually worthwhile.

Sure, your average paper will probably be better than your average cable news source...but not by much. I find what actually determines the quality of a news source isn't how it's distributed, but who owns it. For example, In my opinion, the best reporting about national US news comes from NPR, the BBC, or RT. They cover stories that none of the domestic corporate media would dare touch.

Re:Hyperlocal (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#40669763)

One very important function of a newspaper for a civilization is to record what happened.

Again: "record" it.

Not: delete some aspect of the past when you find it inconvenient.

Example: Vanity Fair did an interview with Asma Bashar, wife of the Syrian president for life, calling her a rose in the desert. Now that the US and UK want Bashar out, the article is nowhere to be found.

It's hard to delete an article when it's printed on a newspaper and held in multiple (or even one) libraries.

Whether you're on the conservative or liberal divide of things, that is a very important function.

Re:Hyperlocal (2)

nahdude812 (88157) | about 2 years ago | (#40663825)

Does that mean "what's happening in this group of 5 houses in this cul-de-sac"?

No, it's hyper-local in the journalistic sense, covering news that individuals will find relevant, but which historically the print media which covered that area would have found too localized to bother spending the money for someone to cover it.

The example in the This American Life episode which originally talked about these guys is a town hall meeting where new articles were up for debate. IIRC, the paper which covers that area is the Chicago Tribune, who normally doesn't have the resources to cover a small-town meeting like that. But the citizens of that town would find it as relevant (if not more so) as downtown folks would find a city hall meeting, which the Tribune would cover.

I think the core idea has merit, but I don't know how you can do it in a manner that assures quality.

An example from my own life that could benefit from a service like this - there's a new very high density housing subdivision going in behind where I live; there's a local meeting about it every few weeks (none of the local folks around here want it of course, but our township folks insist this is the only way they'll be able to pay for new roads - which of course are only needed because the township keeps approving huge new high density housing subdivisions). The township meetings are almost always held at a time which is incompatible with my schedule, so I can't attend these. I rely on my neighbors to tell me about it, but they're all so steamed up that their version of the events is usually vague and inconsistent. Having an actual journalist report on this would be really useful to me. It's too small-potatoes to attract a journalist though.

Re:Hyperlocal (4, Informative)

ddtstudio (61065) | about 2 years ago | (#40665533)

Journalist here.

What you're missing is the strong definition of "cover". In that very example, IIRC, the Journatic stringer just rewrote an agenda for the meeting, published before the meeting. The report that got published did not reflect what actually happened at the meeting, had no context of whether citizens questioned, applauded, or rioted. The Journatic stringer did not contact anyone to get a second source.

Think if this model were replicated on a larger scale. "Official government press releases said that the Congress is functioning smoothly and all citizens are happy" or "Microsoft press releases stated that Office 2018 is a must-buy and everyone loves Windows."

Re:Hyperlocal (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40669793)

Think if this model were replicated on a larger scale. "Official government press releases said that the Congress is functioning smoothly and all citizens are happy" or "Microsoft press releases stated that Office 2018 is a must-buy and everyone loves Windows."

Seriously you think this has not already been happening for years? (Hard to tell if you are being sarcastic or not.) It's of course not Universal, but it is very wide spread. This is quite honestly why distrust corporate owned media. When people I know that watch the "News" every single day have no idea what Fast and Furious is about, or Kony 2012, or what OWS is about, it's flooring. These are all major issues and the majority that watch corporate owned media have little to no information to work with.

Fox ran a 10 second piece 2 months ago that stated Kony 2012 was a hoax, but never mentioned who propagated the hoax. ABC and NBC did not mention it that I know of, but could have done similar 10 second pieces. That is just one of countless possible issues. It is "News" when the Government sponsors blatant lies to manipulate the public, yet there are few reports about the manipulation, lies, etc...

Re:Hyperlocal (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | about a year ago | (#40671613)

Yeah, I don't intend to suggest that Jouranatic's treatment of "hyperlocal" stories is the best treatment. Just suggesting to GP that "hyperlocal" doesn't mean, "Did you see the Jones family put up new siding?" Rather I mean that there are events happening which are relevant to a subset of individuals, which would not be relevant to the population typically covered by a newspaper.

Journatic's approach is flawed, but is probably the result of trying to provide this kind of reporting without costing as much as sending a reporter to be physically present at every town hall and township meeting. The core idea has merit, but the very reason this work hasn't been done historically is because properly covering that content is not cost effective. I'm not sure it would ever be possible to provide both good reporting and remain financially solvent at that level. That doesn't mean that kind of reporting has no value, just that you can't sell it for what it costs to produce.

Enthusiasm from Journastic CEO (4, Informative)

rwade (131726) | about 2 years ago | (#40663007)

I highly recommend review of the This American Life Episode [thisamericanlife.org] referenced in TFA.

Although broadcast only a few weeks ago, I'm not sure when TAL recorded the interview. That said, the enthusiasm of the company's CEO was striking given the strong line of questioning posed by the This American Life Interviewer. I would imagine the interview was fairly recent.

Although conceding that the stories sometimes lacked full detail on the things going on on the community being covered, with base material consisting often of only a quick phone interview to get a quote and a press release to provide the story -- Journastic CEO Brian Timpone did clalim a degree of passion for enabling some form of coverage for stories that may simply go unreported on.

This kind of enthusiasm for idealistic coverage of Norman Rockwell's Small Town America really files in the face of the general approach of the company to the job at hand -- which included a policy to use falsified (read: made-up) by-lines. That is to say, the off-shore reporters writing the stories for Journastic and then syndicated to newspapers like the Chicago Tribune had a field in the story submission setting for a name to associated with the story. Amazing.

Re:Enthusiasm from Journastic CEO (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663219)

For what it's worth, the Tribune used Journatic ONLY for TribLocal. The actual content of the TribLocal, since I live in a town covered by one, is pretty useless. Since you listened to the TAL episode, you got a glimpse of some of what they do which is all true. Regular features include the top 10 Redbox rentals from a collection of stores (3 or 4 for me) in the area covered by that TribLocal, recent home sales and prices of homes in the area, generic sports listings and some actual articles about sports teams, a real cover story article (that isn't very interesting), and as mentioned in TAL the worst police blotter ever. The blotter is arranged as a table with only cold hard facts: date, time, location, and "event". Now event isn't your typical blotter blurb that summarizes what happens, about half of the listings are "EMT call; non-vehicular" and that's as much as you get.

Basically Journatic is a data-mining operation using real people as miners and delivering nothing but plain dirt.

Re:Enthusiasm from Journastic CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40665821)

For what it's worth, the Tribune used Journatic ONLY for TribLocal.

Did the Tribune used its reputation to sell TribLocal? Then it gets the blame.

News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (4, Interesting)

djl4570 (801529) | about 2 years ago | (#40663049)

News has been outsourced for years. Read a newspaper and see for yourselves how many stories are AP, Reuters, AFP or syndicated from the NYT, WA Post or LAT. This trend was evident in the early nineties to anyone paying attention to the papers they read. It was not unusual for the front section of the SF dailies to be mostly wire service content and advertising. The net didn't kill the newspaper industry, they were busy digging their own grave before the net became popular. The net just helped them fall into the hole they dug.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663195)

News has been outsourced for years. Read a newspaper and see for yourselves how many stories are AP, Reuters, AFP or syndicated from the NYT, WA Post or LAT. This trend was evident in the early nineties to anyone paying attention to the papers they read. It was not unusual for the front section of the SF dailies to be mostly wire service content and advertising. The net didn't kill the newspaper industry, they were busy digging their own grave before the net became popular. The net just helped them fall into the hole they dug.

There's a huge difference between running a story written that gives full byline credit to a real journalist who happens to work for the Associated Press and having a story credited to "James Albertson, Chicago Tribune" when it was actually written by Jayjay Alvarez in the Philippines, who has never even been to Chicago.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40663587)

There's a huge difference between running a story written that gives full byline credit to a real journalist who happens to work for the Associated Press and having a story credited to "James Albertson, Chicago Tribune" when it was actually written by Jayjay Alvarez in the Philippines, who has never even been to Chicago.

Like what? If its "huge", this should be an easy difference to point out, to elaborate upon, to provide examples...

One big problem you get is generational effects of the American educational system. So a guy who scored in the top 5% of international standardized tests in a foreign land can probably B.S. his way into a better article than a local who might have grown up where the story happened (as if that'll matter) but he probably scored in the bottom 10% so he's going to completely screw it up.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663771)

There's a huge difference between running a story written that gives full byline credit to a real journalist who happens to work for the Associated Press and having a story credited to "James Albertson, Chicago Tribune" when it was actually written by Jayjay Alvarez in the Philippines, who has never even been to Chicago.

Like what? If its "huge", this should be an easy difference to point out, to elaborate upon, to provide examples...

One big problem you get is generational effects of the American educational system. So a guy who scored in the top 5% of international standardized tests in a foreign land can probably B.S. his way into a better article than a local who might have grown up where the story happened (as if that'll matter) but he probably scored in the bottom 10% so he's going to completely screw it up.

Like how one is a total fabrication, and the other is not? One is accountable for what he or she publishes, and the other is not?

The quality of the writing, or even the reporting, is not the issue here. For that matter, the fact that he's in the Philippines is not the issue. The problem is that an unknown, unaccountable party is creating these stories.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (2)

ddtstudio (61065) | about 2 years ago | (#40665579)

The difference is accountability. I should think this is obvious.

Journalism -- real journalism -- relies existentially on correction, whether self- or outside. The whole thing depends on being able to track who was responsible for reporting what and track records. Your name, your byline, is your career in journalism not just because of narcissism (though that happens) but because you have to put your name on each story and, if you screw up, each correction. If you can't trace where bad info came or _regularly comes_ from, it's not journalism and not reliable info.

Since you're on /. and have a low ID, I'll guess you're involved in... software, perhaps? Do you install unsigned software or buy from developers you've never heard of, have no reputation, and no contact info?

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40665775)

Of course! There is no such thing as nefarious or badly intentioned software, just like there is no such thing as bad intentioned or nefarious Journalism right?

The above is of course sarcasm. What I have seen so far have been the innocent comments and concerns, but you hint at a bigger problem. What about the lies, or plain old cover ups that are happening because there are no local journalists to actually do.. you know.. Journalism?

The article also talks about something which is a huge red flag. "Only use one source for data", which is just about as against the spirit of Journalism as a company can get. I find it completely unacceptable that people are not only allowing it, but condoning it.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40665839)

Since you're on /. and have a low ID, I'll guess you're

At least you didn't say "old"

Do you install unsigned software or buy from developers you've never heard of, have no reputation, and no contact info?

Science/engineering is different from fine arts, but I'm not sure it matters in this case. If you insist a newspaper journalist is like a scientist/engineer, then I'd respond that I read technical journal articles all the time, and my main criteria for selection is the synopsis, for all I know or care the contact info is falsified. If you insist a newspaper journalist is a fine artist, then I'd respond that I often listen to unknown musicians and pick up unknown paperback book authors.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (1)

ddtstudio (61065) | about 2 years ago | (#40667103)

Ha! No, I'm old. And Spartacus.

No, I'm not insisting a journalist is like a scientist/engineer, nor am I insisting a journalist is like a fine artist. Why does a journalist have to be like either?

The parallel I was attempting (poorly, it seems) to draw is one of accountability. Which was the answer to your question. It's not tied to writing or expression, but in trust and confidence (perhaps the sociological technical senses of these terms are best here). You need to have a way to track back to the person writing the article or coding the software, because that's the primary mechanism to protect the user/reader from either incompetence or maliciousness.

I hope that makes it clearer. (And I'm not being passive-aggressive! I'm really trying to engage and be expressive.)

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663591)

So, what exactly is the difference? If neither person has been to Chicago there really is none.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (3, Interesting)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | about 2 years ago | (#40663673)

Well if you have worked in a newspaper, you'll realize that except for big name reporters, a byline is simply the credit given to the person who supplied data for a news report. This might consist simply of the basic who, why, what, how, where. The person who'd combine all this into something that isn't a mere tabulation of data would be the copy editor, who frequently goes uncredited (although I've seen news reports with a tagline like "With reporting by So-an-So).

The most "honest" bylines probably belong to a columnist or a lifestyle (useless news) section writer. Lifestyle writers have all the time to write their critical analyses of the latest Shakespeare play or why Facebook is a great way for moms to keep in touch. But for the front page, where time is of the essence, what the reporter submits is at best a rough draft.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663465)

AP stories are often Wall Street Journal articles being syndicated under contract.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | about 2 years ago | (#40663561)

AP and Reuters have been around for decades and were once considered excellent sources. They've been downsizing for at least the last decade and provide nowhere near the quality they use to.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663649)

Not the same thing at all. There's a big difference between national news and local news. You had the wire services covering DC and global news, and the local news folks covered local news, and the local papers shared stories all the time.

You can't expect a local newspaper to have people in DC, New York, London, Egypt, Iraq, etc.

It was a good system. Not perfect. The article, if you should decide to read it, has to do with fake news being generated by people with no journalism training.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40663765)

What's even more amazing than the amount of corporate malfeasance we live with day to day are the legions of people that line up to defend that corporate malfeasance.

Re:News Has Been Outsourced for Years. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#40664107)

News has been outsourced for years. Read a newspaper and see for yourselves how many stories are AP, Reuters, AFP or syndicated from the NYT, WA Post or LAT. This trend was evident in the early nineties to anyone paying attention to the papers they read.

If you're calling it a 'trend' and saying it was "evident in the early nineties" - then, frankly, you're the one not paying attention. "Outsourcing" articles has been standard practice since at least the 1930's. (Nor is it really outsourcing in any useful sense, rather it's aggregating.)
 
I don't see a problem with it, as it allows local papers to get stories they otherwise wouldn't be able to cover.

Only if you redefine "Outsourcing" (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40665911)

We did receive News from abroad if that is what you are calling "Outsourcing", but it was not anything like what is happening now. I'm not sure how you can even draw a parallel. Let me give you a brief yet well known example.

Carl Marx was a writer, and wrote stories for various news papers in the US. Those were printed as Opinion Pieces, not News. When it came to Newspapers with interest, and later broadcasting media, they sent reporters that were trained in and practiced Journalism across the globe to get "News". Those stories were of course called "News" and not "Opinion Pieces". The difference between the two is so vast that there should no way of confusing what was "News" with what was "Outsourced".

"News" from any source was never perfect and not infallible. Stories had to be about things that people were interested in, which kept the "News" selling and the companies profitable. A story that may harm someone in certain positions may sometimes not make it to print. Other times, stories were printed in a way to present a preferable scenario instead of what was really going on. Those things were not the "Normal" and when caught became scandalous. News, up until very recent times had concerns for their Journalistic reputation and abilities.

People knew how important "News" was to keeping people in power honest. Monopoly laws prevented 2 people from owning every form of media we have and see, which is just about the position we are currently in. Think about that last statement long and hard, then look at who owns 99% of all "News" currently. (My percentage may be a bit off due to "Bloggers", but it should be very very close.)

Re:Only if you redefine "Outsourcing" (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#40666651)

We did receive News from abroad if that is what you are calling "Outsourcing", but it was not anything like what is happening now. I'm not sure how you can even draw a parallel. Let me give you a brief yet well known example.

When you get an example, get back to me, because the one you provided was laughably clueless. (Here's a free hint for you: Newspaper editors aren't entirely stupid, and they do know who they hire to write opinion pieces and who they hire to write news.)
 

When it came to Newspapers with interest, and later broadcasting media, they sent reporters that were trained in and practiced Journalism across the globe to get "News".

The very biggest papers did. The others either accepted what they could get from anyone on the scene*, or reprinted (pirated) what the larger papers were printing. The answer to both problems was the wire service (the earliest precursors of which got their start in the 1830's.), the small papers got quality writing and the larger papers got paid. Everyone was happy.
 

A story that may harm someone in certain positions may sometimes not make it to print.

That almost always depended on the political/editorial slant of the paper question. A Republican paper would never hesitate to print dirt on a Democratic office holder. A paper beholden to an owner who hated $BIG_FAMILY_IN_TOWN would almost certainly publish dirt on that family. Etc... etc...
 

News, up until very recent times had concerns for their Journalistic reputation and abilities.

True. But that didn't prevent them from printing stories from wire services or independent correspondents. But also keep in mind that the idea that news was independent, universal, and unbiased is a relatively recent one - it got started with the decline of newspapers and the rise of TV journalism.... I.E. just as the big corporations were starting to increase their control over all news sources. That's probably not an accident.

*Which is the origin of the term correspondent - because the papers corresponded with those individuals via letter.

Re:Only if you redefine "Outsourcing" (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40668257)

When you get an example, get back to me, because the one you provided was laughably clueless. (Here's a free hint for you: Newspaper editors aren't entirely stupid, and they do know who they hire to write opinion pieces and who they hire to write news.)

I gave one, it worked very well. You stated that "Outsourcing" has been happening for a long time in Journalism. Clearly you back what I stated, that that would only be true if you re-defined outsourcing. Correspondents were not anonymous people. Of course they were not local, but they sure as hell were not anonymous and sold as cheap commodity like TFA is discussing. The same would be true for Editors, and Journalists. There were names, and in many cases people did not even use Pen names. Of course there were many political and war correspondents and journalists that did, but it was not always seen as an honorable thing in the field. Journalism was (and to many still is) about reputation, not stuffing trash on to users as "News" for the lowest possible price.

That almost always depended on the political/editorial slant of the paper question. A Republican paper would never hesitate to print dirt on a Democratic office holder. A paper beholden to an owner who hated $BIG_FAMILY_IN_TOWN would almost certainly publish dirt on that family. Etc... etc...

Hurray, another quantification fallacy. (Not from you mind you, I have just been noticing a rash of these lately) I gave a generalization which you back and add information to suggesting my statement was incorrect. If A=1, B=1, and C=1 then the statement "A=1" is not false when not including B and C. It's still correct, and would only be incorrect if A was dependent on B and/or C (which in this case there is no dependency).

True. But that didn't prevent them from printing stories from wire services or independent correspondents. But also keep in mind that the idea that news was independent,

Sorry, I don't agree and you can't convince me it's true. As mentioned above Correspondents had names, they were not Anonymous Joe being paid the lowest possible price to BS people or Copy other people's work. Also, journalists were rarely independent, they almost always had opinions and presented those opinions. That's what gave them a name and reputation. It either gave them value in the market or killed their careers. In addition they had integrity and a code of honor among themselves, and they knew the importance of telling a story as close to the truth as possible for countless reasons.

it got started with the decline of newspapers and the rise of TV journalism.... I.E. just as the big corporations were starting to increase their control over all news sources. That's probably not an accident.

I agree with that statement fully. Search my posts in this thread since I stated something very similar. We, the American people, should be concerned and alarmed. The Noble Lie is not a well known story any longer, and should be.

Hush money ain't what it used to be (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | about 2 years ago | (#40663107)

From the article:

"offering to pay $50 in âoehush moneyâ to anyone who reported getting a request"

A whole $50? What is that like.... a couple of drinks at Starbucks?

Re:Hush money ain't what it used to be (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#40663981)

...

A whole $50? What is that like.... a couple of drinks at Starbucks?

Only if you don't leave a tip.

Outsourcing (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#40663253)

Just another way to say "it just doesn't matter where you are on the Internet".

And apparently it doesn't much matter the quality of your work either, so long as you're doing something.

Feh.

Smells like whining to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663269)

That Ryan Smith guy sure can whine. He is all upset because someone figured out you don't need high-priced workers to copy daily police reports, real estate sales, or sports scores.

All The Fake-Bylined, Plagiarized & Fabricated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40663299)

...News That's Fit To Print! ;-)

I'm not always a fan (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#40664265)

But the in-depth investigative work done for This American Life has been the most compelling, top-notch journalism I've ever seen or heard. They've also done great work covering different aspects of the recent financial crises (I suppose one could argue it's just been one drawn-out, multifaceted crisis rather than several).

I'd like more of that and less David Sedaris, please.

Re:I'm not always a fan (1)

g1zmo (315166) | about 2 years ago | (#40668187)

Planet Money [npr.org] is (IMO) just as good as TAL, though their segments tend to be shorter and, obviously, they focus on financial and economic stories.

While we're on it, Radio Lab [radiolab.org] is as equally well-presented as the other two, but it focuses on more of the humanities, science, and social sciences rather than current events or other topical issues.

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