Journatic, and the troubling questions of outsourced local news

The fake byline thing may have been wrong, but what are the ethics, and realities, of using non-local staff to churn out cheap local journalism? Are newspapers going to be forced to do it for economic reasons? What is the real effect on quality? Does anyone read these sorts of stories anyway?

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  1. The unfolding story on Journatic has been brewing for the last few days, mostly from Poynter. If you haven't been following it, here's the place to start. More news broke this morning, regarding fake bylines: 
  2. I think everyone in this conversation is in agreement that fake bylines are wrong. But I wondered if this was distracting us from deeper questions -- or giving us an excuse to criticize Journatic, when it might just be showing us uncomfortable truths about local news production.
  3. Clearly the stars were aligned, because Mathew Ingram at GigaOM published a post addressing these very points just as we began our conversation.
  4. But before we can evaluate what Journatic does, and the lack of reaction before all of this reporting on the company, we first have to know whether anyone actually read their work.
  5. And even if this sort of reporting is done well, does anyone care?
  6. So now we have a tangle of different questions, and clear answers to none of them.
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