Journalist gets two years in prison in LA Times hacking case

Former Reuters editor convicted of helping Anonymous to log on to Times sites

A California journalist has been sentenced to two years in prison for helping to hack the website of the Los Angeles Times in 2010.

The journalist, Matthew Keys, a deputy social media editor at Thomson Reuters at the time, was convicted in October of providing the hacking group Anonymous with a user name and password to log into computers owned by the Tribune, then the parent company of The Times.

Tribune has since spun off its newspaper assets into Tribune Publishing and has been renamed Tribune Media.

A federal indictment said that Mr Keys had encouraged the hackers, with whom he worked in December 2010, to log in to a Tribune server “to make unauthorised changes to websites” and “to damage computer systems” owned by the company.


The hackers changed the Times headline "Pressure Builds in House to Pass Tax-Cut Package" to "Pressure Builds in House to Elect CHIPPY 1337," a reference to another hacking group.

Mr Keys previously worked as a web producer at KTXL Fox 40, a California television station owned by Tribune.

Social media circles

According to court documents, Mr Keys also changed the access credentials of Fox 40 employees, interfering with their ability to get access to company servers, and obtained email addresses for Fox 40 viewers, to whom he sent disparaging emails about the company.

The charges had shocked social media circles, where Mr Keys was considered a wunderkind of new media.

He was named one of Time’s 140 best Twitter feeds. The indictment also brought protests against the 1984 law under which he was charged, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

In an essay posted on Medium on Wednesday, Mr Keys wrote that “the past three years have been exceptionally challenging for me personally and for my professional career as a journalist.”

He added: “I am innocent, and I did not ask for this fight. Nonetheless, I hope that our combined efforts help bring about positive change to rules and regulations that govern our online conduct.”

New York Times Service