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Despite Fake Bylines, San Francisco Chronicle to Continue Using Journatic’s BlockShopper

Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist Rebecca Rosen Lum has some sobering news from the opposite end of the journalism scale.

Despite a protest by the Media Workers Guild, which represents journalists and other workers at the San Francisco Chronicle, editor Ward Bushee has decided the paper will continue to publish real estate items created by Journatic’s now infamous content outsourcing service BlockShopper. The operation’s shoddy overseas business practices were exposed on a recent episode of NPR’s This American Life. From Lum’s report in online newspaper the Fog City Journal:

Last week, Bushee met with Media Workers Guild international vice president Michael Cabanatuan, a Chronicle reporter and former president of the San Francisco-based Pacific Media Workers Guild. Bushee told Cabanatuan the Chronicle preferred to devote its newsroom resources to higher-profile coverage…

Under the headline “Content Vendor Journatic’s Work Checked,” a recent Chronice article revealed that by running invented bylines, Journatic – not to worry – was simply “trying to achieve better search engine ranking and insulate its writers from reader complaints.”

There is a bright spot however. In the comments to Lum’s story, director of Poynter Online Julie Moos writes that the Chicago Tribune has suspended its relationship with Journatic after it discovered plagiarism and Hearst has told Poynter it is further reviewing the company’s bargain basement content services. Perhaps the Chronicle will reconsider its decision.

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