Outsourcing journalism derails Tribune’s credibility
Robservations on the media beat:
- Could the Journatic scandal be any more of a train wreck for the Chicago Tribune? Falsified bylines, fabricated quotes and outright plagiarism finally shamed the Tribune Friday into suspending Journatic from supplying material to its 22 suburban TribLocal publications and 90 community websites. But it shouldn’t have taken those sins — or the scathing expose by This American Life on June 29 — for Tribune bosses to question their investment in the hyperlocal content provider. Where was the investigation of Journatic’s practices before the Tribune fired its TribLocal writers and outsourced their jobs to the Philippines or who knows where? “Inevitably, as you distribute reporting work to an increasingly remote team, you break traditional bonds of trust between writers and editors until they are implicitly discouraged from doing high quality work for the sake of increasing production efficiency and making more money,” wrote Mike Fourcher in announcing his resignation Saturday as production manager and head of editorial at Journatic. Some people accused me of trash talk when I noted here last May that Journatic had turned TribLocal into “a worthless piece of garbage,” and called out Tribune editor Gerry Kern for supporting his company’s partnership with the outfit. (“Gerry, believe me, it’s worse than an embarrassment,” I wrote. “It’s a fraud.”) Anyone argue with that assessment now?
- Peter Whorf has resigned as program director and vice president of content and project management at classical WFMT-FM (98.7) to become station manager of WKAR-AM/FM, the public radio stations of Michigan State University in East Lansing, effective August 27. Whorf joined the Window to the World Communications station here in 2005 after five years as managing producer of Eight Forty-Eight, the morning newsmagazine at Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5). He previously was program director of WNYC-FM in New York and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri.
- Looking fit but tired (and stumbling over his words, as usual), Mike Adamle returned Sunday to NBC 5 for the first time since he began a two-month leave. The veteran Chicago sports anchor, who last appeared on the air May 14, made no reference to his absence on Sunday’s 5 or 10pm newscasts. Except for a brief statement about “taking some personal time,” neither he nor the station has disclosed why he was away. Adamle, 62, a former Chicago Bear, has a history of treatment for medical and psychiatric issues.
- Chicago traffic reporters played musical chairs last week following the announced departure of Matt Rodewald as traffic and transportation reporter at NBC 5. Replacing Rodewald on the station’s weekday morning news is Kye Martin, who most recently worked for Radiate Media as primary traffic reporter at Tribune Co.-owned CLTV and fill-in at WGN-Channel 9. Replacing Martin, in turn, is Sarah Jindra, who had been a traffic voice of Chicago Public Media WBEZ.
- Although the Chicago Reader’s lease at 11 East Illinois Street isn’t up yet, the alternative weekly is about to move in with its new Sun-Times Media owners at 350 North Orleans Street. Targeted for August 1, the accelerated move will make it easier for the Reader to migrate to the Sun-Times content management system, according to insiders. The two publications will continue to maintain separate newsrooms.
- Keep an eye on Landon Cassman. The north suburban native and former intern at Chicago Public Media WBEZ just landed as a multimedia journalist at WIFR-TV, the CBS affiliate in Rockford. He holds bachelor’s and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also was web producer and video editor of the Daily Illini.
- Colleagues remembered Patricia Moore as a groundbreaking journalist and one heck of a dame whose reporting career spanned more than 40 years at the Sun-Times and Daily News. “She showed countless young reporters how to navigate a newsroom,” Maureen O’Donnell wrote in a fine tribute to Moore, who died July 6 at her Lincoln Park home.