Daily Archives: April 23, 2012

It was announced earlier today that the Chicago Tribune has invested in Journatic and will be using it to cover hyperlocal news.

A Romenesko reader writes:

I’m a former Patch editor who worked in a town also covered by TribLocal. The Tribune put considerable resources into TribLocal in advance of Patch’s mid-2010 launch into the Chicago suburbs. Prior to that, it was mainly a bulletin board for UGC [user-generated content], with the occasional staff-written story.

In summer/fall 2010, the TribLocal site was redesigned, additional staff hired to beef up news coverage and a weekly print version launched. TL even contracted a few freelancers to write columns and sports stories–something it rarely had done previously. For a while, coverage was robust, but it dropped off around the time Patch cut its freelancing budget last fall. In recent months, it appeared TL staffers were covering wider areas and had less time to focus on more in-depth coverage.

Coincidentally, I talked to Journatic after leaving Patch in 2011 and was told it was piloting a program for TribLocal. (It looks like the Oak Lawn TribLocal site is one of those currently being produced by Journatic.) I could find little online information about the company, beyond its origins in BlockShopper. I found Journatic to be very disorganized, as if it were growing faster than the folks at the top could handle. It has been running ads for writers and copy editors almost continuously for months. It resembles a content farm, with writers and editors paid on a piecework basis equating to $12 or $14 per hour.

Visitors to started asking questions about Journatic last December. Here’s what one person wrote:

This is a group from the same people that run BlockShopper. I think they started this Journatic stuff because BlockShopper is getting pounded with complaints about printing people’s personal information. What they do is take public records and print them. Perfectly legal, but ethics wise, not a good sell for public relations.

They also do real estate Sunday sections for newspapers looking for cheap help.

I did a Skype interview for one of these positions last year, and didn’t get the job. At that point, most of their page designers were in the Philippines. They only would have a handful of people in the US who would proof the work from the outsourced jobs.

You can google “Blockshopper” and “BlockShopper complaints” to get a better idea of who they are.

* Here is Journatic CEO Brian Timpone’s Twitter feed
* Here is Journatic editorial director Kathryn Swartz’s LinkedIn resume.

Tommy Tomlinson

Longtime Charlotte Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson is leaving the paper to cover sports for the new USA Today Sports Media Group/Major League Baseball Advanced Media website. (Joe Posnanski is leaving Sports Illustrated to work for the same venture.) Pulitzer finalist Tomlinson writes:

This is hard. I still love the Observer, and always will. My wife, Alix Felsing, will still be working for the paper. We’re staying in Charlotte. I’m not running away from the Observer. I’m running toward this new thing, with the hope that one day it’ll make me as proud as I’ve been to work 23 years for this great newspaper.

* Tommy Tomlinson: Well… I have an announcement
* Read the comments from his Facebook friends
* Earlier: Tomlinson on making words work for a living

Press+ said today that it will grandfather at no charge the subscribers for any publishers that had used Google One Pass. “We will maintain subscriber accounts for whichever publishers might have signed on with Google without charging our usual revenue share,” Press+ Co- founder Steven Brill says in a release. “We’ll only charge for all the new customers we generate going forward once our seamless transition is completed.” Google announced late Friday that it shuttered its online payment platform for news outlets.

The full release is after the jump.

Read More

Letter to Romenesko

From SETH THERIAULT: This one is just sort of fun.

The Times has an article in Saturday’s paper about caretakers who live
rent-free in the city-owned historic homes:

Back in 1999, the Times ran a similar article. Same person in the lede. What are the chances?

P.S. The Van Cortlandt House caretaker also makes a return appearance, this time with a name for the record.

* NYT’s 2012 story on caretakers who live rent-free
* NYT’s 1999 story on caretakers who live rent-free

The Chicago Tribune has invested in Chicago-based media content provider Journatic, and will use that outfit rather than TribLocal for its hyperlocal news reporting. Most of the 40 TribLocal staffers will lose their jobs. (UPDATE: “The number you have is a little off,” says a Tribune spokesman. “At the end of the day, about half of the people covering hyperlocal news will lose their jobs (20 or so), and not all of them are reporters—some reporters are actually being re-assigned at Chicago Tribune.”) “We’ve made an investment in this company because we believe that it is a more effective way of providing hyperlocal news, and we think we can do more of it in this way,” says Tribune Editor Gerould Kern. || Meanwhile, there are reports that the Tribune-owned Hartford Courant is offering buyouts today. If you have a memo or information to pass along, please email me at

* Chicago Tribune replaces TribLocal with Journatic content
* Blogger hears of new buyouts at the Hartford Courant

At least Chicago Tribune editor Gerry Kern has some good news:

UPDATE: A Romenesko reader writes:

I have seen Journatic advertising jobs at barely-above minimum wage without benefits occasionally since the fall. The only good side is you can work from home. The first time I saw a Journatic ad at I noted their address was the same as Trib Tower, but I couldn’t find anything else tying Tribune and Journatic together. Now it’s confirmed. It’s very interesting the name ‘Journatic’ has been scrubbed from their postings. wish I had the frame grab of the original job postings.

* Here’s a cached version of Journatic’s ad on

This kid is the next Bob Edwards!

That was my first thought after hearing 14-year-old Jake Foushee do his movie-trailer guy impression. So what does Edwards think? He emails me:

I have NEVER sounded that good, Jim, so I’m flattered by the comparison. Too bad we can’t pair him with Don LaFontaine, who died last year. Don was the “In a world…” movie trailer guy. Tell Jake to get his SAG AFTRA card and NEVER work non-union.

You can’t blame Foushee for trying to make a few bucks off his fame. He tweeted on Sunday: “For $5 ill record you a voicemail and send it to you as an .mp3 :D” One of his followers responded: “‘Fame’ and money has already gone to your head.”

Jake Foushee

* Listen to Jake Foushee’s movie-trailer guy impression
* Deep voice brings quick online fame for teen
* @JakeFoushee reveals what he’ll be wearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

A Romenesko reader sent this image from yesterday’s Tyler (Texas) Courier Times Telegraph. (Here’s the online story, which doesn’t use the LIQUID ASSETS headline.)

UPDATE: Courier Times-Telegraph publisher Nelson Clyde says the paper has investigated this and concluded that readers didn’t get newspapers with the Post-It note in the position shown here. “We believe it’s not possible for the machines to have positioned it” in that manner and “it is our belief that the photos that have been put up on your site and others show stickers that were removed” and put in a new place to create the LIQUID ASS headline.

* Check out more great newspaper images on Romenesko’s Pinterest page

* From Jan. 2 through April 15, Mitt Romney’s depiction by the media was more than twice as positive as President Obama’s. (Daily Beast)
* All you need to know about New York Daily News editor Colin Myler. (New York)
* What is it with TV news and corrections? asks David Carr. (New York Times)
* L.A. County coroner says Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure and hardening of the arteries. (Los Angeles Times)
* Tumblr editor: “We want to help people find little stories no one’s ever heard of.” (
* Celebrities make repeat appearances at White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. (Washington Post)

Sioux City Journal editor Mitch Pugh tells Romenesko readers about this Sunday front-page editorial [the full-page image is here] and how it’s been received:

The reaction to the editorial has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from local readers. We expected such a dramatic presentation would garner some attention, but we certainly weren’t expecting that it would take off so quickly on a national scale. On Sunday, I talked with the Associated Press, CBS Radio and CNN. I was set to do an appearance on CNN with Soledad O’Brien on Monday morning but we couldn’t get transmission out of Sioux City. Of course, there’s been some negativity – mostly from those who read about it outside of Sioux City and primarily from those who want to view it through their own political lens.

Kenneth Weishuhn

Obviously, the tragic death of Kenneth Weishuhn was the catalyst for this piece. But it was inspired by a confluence of events. We learned of Kenneth’s suicide, which his family believes was the result of intense bullying both in and out of school, in the same week that the documentary “Bully” debuted in Sioux City. A significant portion of “Bully” focuses on a Sioux City middle school student. Sioux City has one of the most proactive anti-bullying policies in the country, yet “Bully” demonstrates that there is much, much more work to be done.

The events of the week struck us not only as a sobering reminder of what we have yet to achieve as a community, but also as an opportunity to bring much-need attention to an issue too many of us would rather ignore. Running an editorial on the front of our newspaper is rare but not unprecedented. We’ve run an A1 editorial roughly a half dozen times in the last five years. But we’ve never cleared the page for an opinion piece. Still, it was in keeping with our news organization’s strong belief that we must serve as advocates for our community’s well-being. Local news organizations can’t shy away from that responsibility.

The editorial board – which includes myself, Opinion Page Editor Mike Gors, Managing Editor Bruce Miller, Business Editor Dave Dreeszen and Publisher Ron Peterson – discussed the idea and decided to move ahead. We reached out to syndicated cartoonist Brian Duffy, who used to work for the Des Moines Register and draws a twice-a-week cartoon for us, about creating something special. Once we had the artwork and the editorial, we made the call to run it on A1. I would be remiss not to draw attention to the important role our publisher Ron Peterson played here. It’s not an easy call to devote that kind of space to any topic, but Ron was an advocate for the idea from the start. Our design team in Munster, lead by designer Diane Cunningham and regional design director Ben Cunningham, helped us realize our vision for a stark, powerful presentation.

Of course, the next step is to try to build on what we’ve achieved with this front page. If we really want to make a difference, we have to move beyond writing editorials and look for ways to partner with organizations in our community to keep the conversation going. I hope we can do that in a meaningful way.

* “We must stop bullying. It starts here. It starts now”
* Bullying led gay teen to suicide, says sister