Who was actually surprised to discover that Journatic was supplying bogus bylines that ended up in print and online editions of the Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and a handful of other major dailies? Somehow, “I told you so,” doesn’t quite say it.

We’ve already seen many of the ramifications of cutting newspaper editorial staffs to the bone and outsourcing content creation. But none have been quite as embarrassing as what went down over the weekend when Journatic writer Ryan Smith admitted on a Chicago radio show to the firm’s use of aliases in articles composed by Filipino writers working for low wages.

It’s time for publishers to think about what they’re really losing with every cut they make and decide how much their credibility is worth.

The best outcome would be that this is the catalyst for newspapers to begin reinvesting in their most-valuable asset — journalism. But, I won’t hold my breath.

—Tara McMeekin

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