Daily Archives: February 27, 2015

Update: My readers have done some investigating, too. See their findings at the end of this post. Update 2: Frontline Desk has pulled the author profiles.

“At Frontline Desk, our team of writers work hard to make sure that you have access to all the latest news as soon as it happens,” logoreads the blurb in the About section of

The website’s journalists have very impressive credentials. For example, “Shawn Smith is a senior news reporter for a top cable news channel in Washington.” (I know of Shep Smith, of course, but I’m not familiar with Shawn.)

Yes, we’ve seen this before; remember the fake reporters of

Now meet a few of the fake journalists at

nikiKim Jordan is “a well-known journalist and on the upper hand talented with cutting edge information about technology of every era. Her resume reflects all her work she has done, and surely does not fail to impress. Moreover working with big names in the journalism industry, she has gained experience that is beneficial in many ways. Working for more than 10 years, she has made in the industry.”
“Kim Jordan” is actually a fashion blogger named Niki. She tells me: “I was informed [about the site] by another individual recently and I sent a note to demanding that it be removed.” She didn’t get a response.

lawyer1Peter Alexander “is a perfect individual to enhance knowledge about technology as his best personal interest,” says his Frontline Desk bio. “With the reviews he provides, the pros and cons of latest and developing technology, you surely won’t be left back [sic]”
“Peter Alexander” is actually Scranton attorney Matthew G. Boyd. He in fact does have some writing experience, according to his law firm bio: “He has authored several articles and has given numerous presentations and training seminars on employment issues.”

holly1Mona John “is an American journalist who received her journalism degree from the University of Chicago,” according to her Frontline Desk profile. “She is an award winning author hailing from Detroit Michigan.” Her Frontline Desk posts include “Hand Washed Utensils Boost Up Immune System in Children” and “First Impression of Apple’s new Photo app For Mac.”
But a reverse image search reveals that “Mona John” is actually a teacher named Holly Clark.

codeMaria Marshall is “an individual with uprising talents of reporting and writing,” says her profile. “Maria, a college student, will surely be a dominating factor in the future. Her articles have recently gained positive response and readers prefer her articles due to her captivating abilities.”
“Maria Marshall” is actually Women Who Code founder Sasha Laundy. She tells me: “They appear to be a spam site and I’m not sure why they picked me. I have contacted them and asked them to remove me but unsurprisingly, they haven’t done anything.”

I’ve also asked Boyd and Clark if they’re aware that the site is using their photos. (I wasn’t able to identify the other “authors and editors” on Frontline with reverse image searches.)

I’ve contacted the site and asked some questions about their “journalists” and unauthorized photo use. Calling the number listed on Frontline’s privacy page gets you Pegasus Taverna in Detroit’s Greektown.

* Frontline Desk editors and authors (

NEW — Peg McNichol writes: “ is, according to Internic’s ‘whois’ search, registered by Enom, a company held by Demand Media. I don’t feel like it’s a huge jump to conclude which company might be behind an alleged news site with fake bylines.”

An anonymous Romenesko reader writes: “I liked your post on Frontline Desk. I thought you might also be interested in noting that the “disclaimer” on is remarkably similar to the one on In fact, David Giles, vice president and deputy general counsel of Scripps, is named as the designated agent for Frontline Desk on’s site.” Update: Giles tells me he’s not familiar with the site and is not its designated agent. “First I’ve heard of it,” he says.

Paul Woolverton writes: “‘Robert Anderson’ is listed as the author of a lot of science type stories on the Frontline Desk site. See bottom of story at this link for an example. But the photo is of Alvin Boyd of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.”

Wes Richards writes: “It ain’t just the fake reporters… it’s the faked original stories. Put any of their items into [this plagiarism checker] and you’ll see what I mean.”


I’ve asked Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times if there was any discussion about this being a conflict of interest – a newspaper sponsoring an often controversial institution that it covers.

Update – Editor Neil Brown says in a statement:

This is no different than our longtime sponsorships with institutions like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Tampa Bay Lightning. The newsroom is not involved in any of the marketing or sales dynamics and all the parties understand that news coverage and editorial independence are preserved outside the parameters of the deal. We will continue to offer readers thorough, aggressive and independent coverage of USF and all other institutions. That is unchanged by this sponsorship arrangement.

* Tampa Bay Times named exclusive print media partner for USF (press release)

Karate-chopping a frozen towel; freezing an egg on the sidewalk.freezing

Last winter, TV reporters were tossing hot water into the air and watching it quickly freeze. That stopped over reports that people were getting scalded after mimicking what they saw on TV. News outlets are now doing things like karate-chopping frozen towels, and freezing eggs on sidewalks. What other look-how-cold-it-is! demonstrations have you seen?

* New York Post freezes an egg on the sidewalk (
* Fox CT reporter freezes a towel and karate-chops it (
* January 2014: Everyone’s throwing hot water into the air (


Letter to Romenesko
From ALLAN JOSEPH: I was editor of Notre Dame’s student paper a few years ago, and I wanted to share the tremendous work the staff there did on the biggest breaking-news story I could imagine on that campus.

Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, the president emeritus of Notre Dame and an absolute legend, passed away last night at 11:30 p.m. This morning, the student newspaper produced this.

It’s stunning work. Thought it was worth sharing.

Last night was also the annual celebration at the time when the top editorial positions turn over — this year’s EIC began her tenure with a campus-wide power outage on her first night running the newsroom, and this happened on the night she was handing it off to her successor. Needless to say, I think she did a spectacular job.

2014-15 EIC is Ann Marie Jakubowski; she’s handing the reins to Greg Hadley, whose term officially starts Monday but unofficially started last night.

Update: I asked the editor-in-chief about putting the issue together and she wrote:

Ann Marie Jakubowski

Ann Marie Jakubowski

Our regular paper was well underway when the news of Fr. Hesburgh’s death broke, but we dropped everything to focus our attention on that and are going to hold our regular content until Tuesday’s paper. We spent about 12:30 a.m. until 6 working on the special edition and the special site, The site went live around 11 a.m.

We distributed the special issue around 10:30 this morning on campus, and by 1 we were running out and started to get requests for more copies. I worked out an arrangement with our printer to get a reprint out around 7 p.m. tonight, and I’m waiting in our office now for that to come in so we can drop it around to our usual pick up sites.

* Notre Dame Observer | Digital print edition (
* Photo: “Notre Dame Observer office all-hands on deck tonight” (@zklonskinski)

* Caroline O’Donovan: “I don’t know what the future of journalism is. …I know that blogs aren’t dead. I know that Twitter isn’t over. I know that people still read print.” (
* The New York Daily News, which owner Mort Zuckerman wants to unload, loses about $20 million annually. (
* New York Post: It appears Mort’s ready to toss in the towel. [Post graphic below.] (
* How the Washington Post got its Jihadi John story. (
* Fort Lauderdale’s homeless newspaper isn’t allowed at a press conference about a cop slapping a homeless man. (
* Financial Times reports a profitable 2014, with total circulation growing 10%. ( | (
* A Marine says AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus “spent years traveling the world in order to bring it closer to us.” (
* New York Times kills its “Home” section. (
* Washington Post does a post on what people said about the Post’s “comprehensive” llama coverage. (
* A Mamie Eisenhower letter anyone? Washington Star society columnist Betty Beale‘s belongings are being sold this week. She died in 2006 at age 94. (
* Milwaukee Journal Sentinel jumps on “sinking ship” Scripps. (
* Page Six says Lara Logan was rushed to the hospital with internal bleeding. (
* Billy Penn founder Jim Brady plans to launch sites in two cities this year, and two in 2016. (
* Bill O’Reilly brings back “guttersnipe.” (
* JOBS: The Colorado Independent is looking for an associate editor. (Romenesko Jobs)
* What Yelp users say about The New Yorker. (
* The video of last week’s Re/code conversation with Gawker chief Nick Denton is now online. (
* Google has second thoughts about banning adult content on Blogger. (
* Instagram is called “a welcome mat for sexual predators.” (
* Place a job ad for just $25 a week on Contact Tom Kwas at for information. (He’ll take care of your Sponsored Post, too.)

BuzzFeed Senior Communication Manager’s 10:28 p.m. email:
dress…and it goes on.

* The dress is white and gold. Or, why BuzzFeed won (
* Jeff Jarvis wants to “get rid of the fucking dress already” (@jeffjarvis)
* Taylor Swift: “I don’t understand this odd dress debate” (