Back around 2008-2009, the Poynter Institute vacated the URL Poynteroinline.org as part of a website redesign. However, it continued using that terminology – “Poynter Online” – on Facebook and elsewhere.
Today, iMediaEthics publisher-editor Rhonda Roland Shearer has some bad news for the St. Petersburg, Florida journalism institute. A non-journalist in a faraway land snapped up the URL in 2011 and has been using it as a legacy framework for some illicit SEO activity:
According to Whois, Poynteronline.org is registered by a man in the Ukraine named Evgeniy Varlashov. Varlashov, according to the Whois links, also registered nearly 300 other URLs. Since his snagging of the Poynteronline.org URL, Varlashov has been mining the benefits of Poynter.org’s long history, prestige and very high Google page ranking of 7 out of a possible 10.
For now, the Ukrainian man’s fake Poynter site is still at the inflated search-engine rank, but that’s likely to change in a hurry in the wake of Shearer’s expose:
iMediaEthics spoke with Sandy Johnakin, “Interactive Learning Administrative Assistant” and a longtime Poynter employee, who works on the Poynter website, about the spam site.
“Wow,” Johnakin said in complete surprise. “We really need to do something about this,” she said. “I’m starting right away!”
Varlashov is evidently also a fairly rudimentary practitioner of the spam arts, because he failed to mask his ownership identity at the Whois level. Read the rest of the iMediaEthics investigation here.