When Local News Isn’t Local: Is Courant Coverage outsourced to Philippines?

In another blow to the readers and remaining journalists of the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper, the Hartford Courant may be tapping into Journatic — a faux news gathering operation that relies on the outsourcing of local news coverage involving low-wage news writers half way round the world.

According to Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund,  the Chicago Tribune, the Courant’s parent company that is still in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, was forced to drop Journatic services last week over fake bylines and plagiarism contained in  coverage in the Trib’s stories in the Chicago area.

Journatic, however, may still be part of the news columns in the Courant.

Free Press supporters in Connecticut received the following e-mail appeal below that calls out the media company for using the low-wage and ethically challenged Journatic in Connecticut:

Is there any job that can’t be outsourced?

Millions of American workers have lost their jobs as employers have moved operations overseas. It’s true for manufacturing, data processing and customer service.
Now it’s true for local news. Media giants including Tribune Company and Hearst Corporation have sent local reporting jobs abroad. To the Philippines.
It’s happening in your community. The Hartford Courant has outsourced local news production to Journatic, a company that hires underpaid workers in the Philippines to create local news stories for newspapers in the United States.

Since the story broke, Journatic’s credibility has rapidly unraveled. We’ve learned that Journatic-produced stories with fake bylines have appeared in several papers. More than 350 articles with fake bylines ran in the Houston Chroniclealone. And over the weekend, the Chicago Tribune indefinitely suspended its use of Journatic after it uncovered instances of plagiarism.
That’s not all. The morning after the Chicago Tribune‘s announcement, Journatic’s editorial chief Mark Fourcher resigned due to ethical concerns. And the uproar has forced Journatic’s other newspaper clients to look into whether other ethical breaches have occurred.
But the story isn’t over.
In the next few weeks, we’re going to be putting pressure on all of Journatic’s major clients — including Tribune and Hearst newspapers in Houston, Hartford and San Francisco, where hometown journalists have been laid off in droves — to stop doing business with this jobs-killing operation. We’ll be making phone calls and delivering tens of thousands of signatures from people like you who are speaking out in favor of local jobs for local reporters.
Local news organizations must be accountable to the communities in which they operate. That means hiring reporters who work among us and walk the same streets, who have direct ties to the people and issues that affect our lives.

Sign our letter so that media executives across the country know that you can’t fake local news. With your help we can return local reporters to local beats.

More information at www.freepress.net