6 thoughts on “Five Lessons from Journatic

  1. Mike was not one of the founders so the last point about knowing your team doesn’t seem to apply. The company has been around for I think 6 years already and Mike just came on in the past few months. If his account of what happened is correct (and I, knowing him personally, have no reason to doubt it), then it was a matter of management not caring what their newest manager thought. Very odd indeed. Usually one hires people one hopes will improve upon the enterprise. To not listen to their ideas is thus totally counterproductive.

    Also, you said about the plagarism: “Any way I think about it – it’s just not cool, new form or no.” My question is, why do you have to think about it so hard? Why not declare outright that this is WRONG. Maybe it’s just my impression, but it felt to me like you were trying to find a way to justify it. And why? Because it’s a new media startup! That means they must automatically be good people. Um, no. Not everyone who it the helm of a startup is a saint. I’m not saying Brian Timpone is a bad guy. But neither is he an awesome guy. We shouldn’t be inclined to automatically believe one or the other.

  2. @Anna – I did know Mike wasn’t a founder (although I didn’t realize the company was 6 years old). But as you noted – the lesson still stands – just replace “founder” with “manager.” Bottom line – the team was not on the same page. It took 10 weeks and a “crisis” to figure it out. A crisis should be when, because you are all on the same page, everyone steps up. That’s not what happened.

    As for the “Any way I think about it” – it’s partly a figure of speech. So your assumption about me thinking about it “hard” or trying to justify what they did is wrong. As I noted – some values are timeless.

    That said – I do like to think. I believe thinking to be a good thing. Whether I am thinking about a startup’s plagiarism or an established media entity like CNN getting the SCOTUS ruling wrong (http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/179341/were-cnn-fox-news-mistakes-on-supreme-court-ruling-part-of-process-journalism/#comment-572481735).

    If I were a betting person – I think you like to think as well and will defend the activity ;)

  3. I do indeed like thinking, as you well know. But my point was that some things don’t require being thought about. Like if I leave my car unlocked and someone steals it, that’s wrong. I don’t need to think about it. It’s just wrong and that’s it. Someone might actually say, no, let’s think about it. Maybe that person needed the car more than me. Maybe they needed it to get to a job and couldn’t afford their own. But that’s called equivocating. Stealing it is wrong, period. See what I’m saying?

  4. Completely disingenuous for a media company to not only hide who is writing news articles, but for companies to also manipulate readers by pretending these people are not writing from abroad.

  5. @Anna – I agree stealing is wrong. It’s a moral issue. Plagiarism is also a moral issue (though shalt not bear false witness kinda stuff).

    But in your example – you left the car door unlocked. So thinking about what just happened would still be a GOOD thing – so that you could avoid doing it in the future.

    I struggle to imagine examples where thinking about something is wrong/bad. I also will say again – you are reading WAY too closely to take a figure of speech and assume I’m being apologetic for Journatic or plagiarists.

    I agree re: manipulating readers to think one thing or another. But I also think if they left bylines off and just had “By Journatic” or “By TK News Service” (whatever they come up with to represent their work) that would be okay. It would lack a traditional byline (a human being’s name) but it wouldn’t be a lie itself. It would be transparently them.

  6. One of the things that’s gone missing in this post is the fact that, according to Brian Timpone, the use of fake bylines was a means to game SEO. So what we have is, once again, Google not only wagging the journalism dog, but also getting a free pass in doing it. Seems to me this is the more systemic problem.

    For those who might not have been paying attention, Google now collects around 40 percent of all online ad revenue, and only four other companies (Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, and AOL) collect an additional 30 percent. And for the most part, none of the five generate much in the way of original content. Until there’s a workaround for that concentration, the Timpones of the world are likely to become the norm, and not the exception.

    As a matter of perspective, bylines as a matter of routine is a somewhat recent invention. In the past, the normal use of a byline was as a recognition for exceptional work or writing along the lines of, say, a Nellie Bly or Richard Harding Davis. It can be argued that the current use of ubiquitous bylines is not always such a good thing because when you have bylines everywhere it pretty much amounts to having them nowhere.

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