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The strange tale of the fake legal journalist

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There’s an assumption that the journalists who churn out copy on behalf of corporate-owned legal news websites are actual people. But the strange tale of Thomson Reuters legal journalist “Michelle Boatley” suggests that they may, in fact, simply be figments of an editor’s imagination…

Michelle Boatley wrote a host of stories like this for Thomson Reuters-owned publication Australasian Legal Business, before disappearing – probably to another journalism job, readers assumed. Then, last month, the Boatley byline appeared once again in Australasian Legal Business. This prompted blogger Jim Romenesko to do some digging.

michelle-boatley-facebookRomenesko discovered a couple of Michelle Boatley Gmail accounts and a Facebook page.

On Facebook, Boatley had just two friends, Australasian Legal Business editor Renu Prasad, and George Beveridge, another apparently fake journalist.

Further information led Romenesko to conclude:

“The prolific legal writer was not real, but a creation of ALB bosses. (They also used a fake George Beveridge byline on occasion, I’m told, but I can’t find any of his stories.)

Boatley’s Facebook page has since been deleted.