By Devin Rose
A River Forest resident whose news service has been under fire recently for using fake bylines on stories said his approach to reporting will improve the future of journalism.
"I personally think we're saving journalism with our approach," said Brian Timpone, the founder and CEO of Journatic, on a recent episode of the public radio show This American Life.
Timpone's news service — which he says in the episode is named by merging the words "journalism" and "automatic" — pays people to create stories for other locales, said Sarah Koenig, a producer for the show. One man interviewed worked in Chicago and wrote stories for the Houston Chronicle. He said he was told that everything he edited was being written in the Philippines.
Koenig said the fake bylines were generated when the real writers hit a button to select an alias.
Timpone argued on the show that reporters are not necessarily better equipped to cover matters in communities where they live. He said the employees in the Philippines are just assembling and copy-editing a bunch of facts.
"No one covers suburban America," Timpone said, his own local newspaper, Wednesday Journal, notwithstanding, so his service is there to report on issues in areas that are overlooked. It also frees up reporters at larger papers to cover more important matters.
A spokesperson for Timpone said he was traveling on the West Coast last week and was not available for comment.