Anna Tarkov


Anna Tarkov is an independent journalist based in the Chicago area where she lives with her husband and baby boy. Getting her start in media by writing a popular blog about former Mayor Richard M. Daley, she went on to eventually work with the Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago and others. Learn more at


How hyperlocal sites handle ‘micro-news’ in their communities

We’ve become familiar with the way Journatic — and the news organizations that outsource to it — are gathering and publishing local “micro-news” like school lunch menus, death notices, high school sports scores and real estate transactions. But we wondered: How else is this information being compiled?

To find out, I checked with some independent, online-only local news publishers. I asked them if they include this sort of content on their sites and how they collect it.

Tracy Record of West Seattle Blog said via email that her site handles this type of news in a variety of ways. High school sports coverage, for instance, is sometimes reported by attending games, or information might be pulled from schools’ websites and Twitter. Not every game can be covered, so Record said they depend on their own judgment and readers’ input to point them to the most newsworthy contests. Read more


Journatic CEO to staff: ‘Bumps are going to be part of the ride’

Journatic CEO Brian Timpone wants his staff to know that “This American Life” and other reporting on the outsourcing company is “noise” that follows “the change we’re forcing” in journalism. In an email (subject line: “from the front”), Timpone also says Journatic is finalizing a deal with one of Canada’s largest publishers. Could it be Postmedia, which is about to reduce print and lay off staff? Here’s the note Timpone sent to staff on Tuesday, July 3 at 10:54 PM CDT.


Some good news.

I just returned from Canada, where we’re working out particulars with one of the largest publishers here– to be our first non-U.S. client ever. That’s a milestone– and it means we likely need to build out proficiency now… in French.

Read more

GateHouse to end outsourcing relationship with Journatic

The Tribune Company has gotten most of the media’s attention lately for working with Journatic. They’ve even launched an internal investigation into the content provider. But as Brian Timpone told us, Journatic works with many more news companies. According to him, they number in the dozens.

One such company is GateHouse, though they will not be a Journatic customer for much longer. I spoke on the phone with David Arkin, the Vice President of Content & Audience, to learn more about GateHouse’s experience with Journatic and why it’s coming to an end.

GateHouse signed on with Journatic in May of 2011. Arkin said he doesn’t remember how they found out about the company, but they were curious to see what they could do.

“We were intrigued by them, because they could produce content that was very process-oriented, like gathering honor rolls and police blotters,” he said. Read more


Journatic worker takes ‘This American Life’ inside outsourced journalism

Not long after he started working for Journatic, Ryan Smith felt there was something not quite right about what the company was doing. The Chicago freelance journalist started working for Journatic, which provides outsourced journalism work for newspapers, in January of 2011, and he was glad to have steady work, even if it paid $10 an hour with no benefits.

At first, Smith worked primarily for Journatic’s sister company That’s when he noticed information was often pulled from LinkedIn, writing was outsourced to foreign countries like the Philippines,and bylines were sometimes fake.

But Blockshopper was small, Smith thought. Then things started changing. After moving to Journatic proper, Smith started seeing names like The Houston Chronicle and Newsday on his copy-editing assignments. Because he knew that Journatic produced its content at a very low cost, it made him fear for the newspapers they serviced. Read more