Chevron started an online newspaper in Richmond, California, where the company processes crude oil in the largest refinery on the west coast. And Davenport, IA, started its own taxpayer-funded news website, though the city recently dropped the project after it faced backlash from critics who considered it propaganda.
Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said the stories on such sites should not be considered journalism. She said the Chevron site was just a mouthpiece for the company and has been used to attack investigative reporting projects.
Crighton said such sites are examples of what the economy is doing to journalism. Legitimate news outlets have cut staff, resulting in fewer reporters to cover communities.
Panelist Rich Egger said Macomb is a good example of a community in which journalism has been downsized. It wasn’t that long ago that at least three professional newspapers and three professional radio stations all had reporters in town. Now there are just two.
Egger said residents must support their local media outlets if they expect fair and accurate news coverage.
Panelist Will Buss believes people have a thirst for knowledge but they must scrutinize news sources. He said Chevron is a big oil company and its “newspaper” definitely is not objective. He said people should question a corporation’s motives when it tries to pass off something as journalism.
Buss said Chevron is being opportunistic in a community that perhaps has been abandoned by other media, and he’s worried that the company’s site is gaining subscribers.