Romenesko is reporting on a This American Life story about how a local news service is using overseas reporters and having them use aliases in order to conceal the fact:
The latest “This American Life” looks at hyperlocal content provider Journatic and interviews Journatic writer-editor Ryan Smith, who reveals that the company uses fake bylines for its Filipino writers — or did, until “TAL” blew the whistle on them.
Smith tells TAL’s Sarah Koenig that “when I ended up looking at the names on a lot of the stories [he edited], the names on the stories that were published weren’t the ones that I saw had written the stories.”
One piece, for example, had the byline of “Ginny Cox,” when the story was actually written by Gisele Bautista in the Philippines.
Producer Koenig says: “Looking at the computer system that the company uses to manage its stories, it seems that when Gisele worked on this real esate story, there was a button called SELECT ALIAS, and when she clicked on it, she had a choice: she could either be Ginny Cox, or Glenda Smith.
Journatic and the Chicago Tribune’s TribLocal have used other fake bylines for stories written by Filipino writers, including Jimmy Finkel, Carrie Reed, Jay Brownstone and Amy Anderson.
Romenensko (and apparently TAL), are focusing on the journalistic ethic issues of fake bylines.
I’m actually more interested in the effect that this will have on the coverage of outsourcing and moving overseas that we see from the mainstream media.
I have always felt that one of the conceits which gave us generally laudatory coverage of moving jobs overseas was the conceit that reporting could not be outsourced.
Now that they know that it’s their jobs on the line, I wonder if the tenor of the stories will change.