That hyperlocal ‘reporter’ may actually be miles away

Jim Romenesko’s journalism blog had an interesting piece earlier this week revealing the further depths of cheapness to which the latest management team at the Las Vegas Review-Journal will sink.

It seems that an outfit called Journatic —which was caught using fake bylines for reporters who actually worked out of the Philippines, as well as plagiarism and outright fabrication has risen from the ashes as LocalLabs. Like its forerunner the firm claims it creates hyperlocal news accounts for various newspapers and other outlets. Similar firms use “reporters” based in India who get local “news” via phone or Internet.

The company would not tell Romenesko who their clients are, but he managed to find a source who confirmed the Chicago-based outfit is providing copy to the R-J for its View sections — purportedly sections serving various neighborhoods but which are really market saturation vehicles for advertisers because versions of them are thrown in the driveways of non-subscribers.

Romenesko reports:

“I have learned, though, that the Las Vegas Review-Journal is using the Chicago-based LocalLabs for one of its View neighborhood sections. (Publisher Ed Moss, who is known for  cutting newspaper staffs, made the decision to hire LocalLabs as a cost-savings measure, I’m told. I’ve sent him some questions.)

“The Review-Journal View section last week had stories by LocalLabs writers Jessica Sabbah (based in Chicago) and Kasey Schefflin-Emrich (in New York), along with stories by the five fulltime Review-Journal View journalists who fear they could lose their jobs to LocalLab contributors.”

Romemesko’s source told him, “The writers and editors are upset, and raised concerns, but they’re also resigned to their fate.”

The alleged “stories” under those bylines in the past couple of weeks have been little more than ads for homes for sale or businesses such as tattoo parlors and webpage builders. Might LocalLabs be charging the paper for content and charging the local companies for placement? Just speculating.

Here is one example:

View "news" story.

View “news” story.