Just one more convulsion in the death of newspapers, or a wake-up call?
Moore insisted that all the writing and editing is being done here in the U.S., and Timpone told “This American Life” the same. He said foreign writers only gather information and they may write a lead as well. “This American Life” then reached out to Filipino writers to ask them what, in fact, they did. They could only get one foreign Journatic worker on tape, and he didn’t want to risk his job by being named. When asked if he wrote the stories, not just gathered information for them, he uttered just one word: yes.
The reason this is on the front page without a direct link to North Carolina is because I want to make sure it doesn't develop said link.
As I listened to this story on NPR Saturday afternoon, I became more and more incensed at the depth of deception. Writers in the Phillipines were given access to a handful of data points (from obits to police blotters), and subsequently wrote 2-3 paragraph articles, which they were paid 35-40 cents to write. And then they clicked a button to select an alias, such as "Cindy Andrews" or several other American-sounding names:
Timpone acknowledged in a phone interview that BlockShopper has used “aliases” in place of authentic bylines. It is unclear whether they still do that on their website, but any content that goes to clients for their sites or print editions now simply has no byline.
There were several reasons for the aliases, Timpone explained. In the beginning, showing up in Google News necessitated a byline and since it was only a few editors who assembled the stories from research done in the Philippines, it wouldn’t have made sense to repeat the same names over and over, he said.
One of the things we try to accomplish here at BlueNC is to provide a third dimension to news stories; to give our readers the ability to walk around a subject and see it from a different angle. Or, even better, to have our readers take part in the process by supplying additional information and/or perspective. I consider it a form of enhancement for local/regional/state stories, not a replacement.
But if the slow death of traditional journalism continues, with the empty desks in the newsroom that follows, we may become the standard-bearers for useful and original content. And that's not a future I look upon with satisfaction.
To the editors and owners of the N&O, N&R, and other NC newspapers: don't fall for this crap. It may be cheaper than doing the real work of reporting, and you may think that people won't notice. But now that we know about it, we'll be watching.
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.