Australasian Legal Business, a publication owned by Thomson Reuters that covers business news in Asia and the Middle East, has welcomed back Michelle Boatley, one of their ace journalists, to their staff. Boatley, who covered layoffs in Bangkok, mergers in Shanghai, and hiring in Dubai, hasn't written for a few years.
Was she sick? Working on a novel? Going deep undercover in Calcutta?
No, as Jim Romenesko writes, she just never existed in the first place. Boatley is simply a nom de plume for editors who would like to make it seem that the publication is larger than it actually is. The editors even set up a fake email address for Boatley a few years ago, and then followed that with a Facebook page (that has since been taken down, but Romenesko took a screen shot).
A source told Romenesko that Boatley was probably added back to the bullpen after a real journalist had recently left to join a law firm.
On top of that, the "reporter" got things wrong in stories that sources were unable to correct (because there was no contact info for Boatley, because Boatley is not a person).
Is this a widespread phenomenon?
Related: How many Gawker writers are simply an alias of one of the editors? Almost all of them.