Dot’s Reading Room: As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place

What kinds of news stories would you expect to find in a publication called Maine Business Daily? Most likely you’d think there would be articles about local enterprises and other business coverage of interest to Downeasters.

But no! In a disturbing news story from the New York Times it appears that publications from such innocuously titled sources are really a coverup for paid political coverage. Here’s the headline: As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place

The article describes the workings of a nationwide operation of 1,300 local sites that publish coverage paid for by partisan groups and public relations firms.  In the Maine Business Daily case, a freelance writer in upstate New York was paid $22 to write a negative article about Sara Gideon, a Democrat who is running against Senator Susan Collins for a seat in the Senate. The short article contained extensive quotes from the Collins organization but no comment from the Gideon campaign. The client who paid for the article was a Republican operative, according to the Times.

Local newspapers are rapidly disappearing across the country, but the Times says publications like the Maine Business Daily are part of a network of websites that aim to fill the void. The article points out that partisan local-news sites appear to be proliferating, funded by political groups associated with both parties. Liberal donors are said to have put millions of dollars into a network of eight sites that began covering local news in swing states last year.

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So – can you trust what you read?  Here at The Bedford Citizen we aim to bring you news you can rely on, produced by local reporters, both paid and volunteer.  The truth as we see it, unvarnished, and accountable to no paid political hacks. Our name says it all!


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