Community’s latest “local” news site part of network with political bent

As we worry about what is to become of our not-so-local newspaper after GateHouse Media acquired its publisher, Gannett; and as we wonder how we’ll make it through the 2020 political season, trying our best to understand what is and isn’t truthful, a new “local” news website has launched that could muck up the local media landscape even more.

This new site — “Livingston Today” — isn’t quite the local news source it purports to be; it’s one of nearly 50 nearly identical sites with a political bent that recently launched in Michigan. These sites have names like Ann Arbor Times, Lansing Sun, Monroe Review, Thumb Reporter, Detroit City Wire, and Novi Times.

And if you look at the site today, there isn’t a single local news story on it, unless you want to know the price of gas in Pinckney, or read a few calendar items scraped from the web.

These sites are published by Metric Media LLC.

Metric Media says Livingston Today is part of the “hundreds (it is) launching nationwide,” a move to fill the “void in local and community news after years of steady disinvestment in local reporting by legacy media.”

According to reporting by the Lansing State Journal, the sites, “with regional names and tabs for topics like business, local government, politics, real estate and schools,” run straightforward press releases, as well as “stories with a conservative political bent.”

Metric Media’s chief executive is Brian Cameron, whose online biography says he addresses private equity investors in Silicon Valley, has been retained by conservative groups, and has served as senior adviser in the 1990s to the “Republican strategy leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

The sites are operated operated by Locality Labs. According to the New York Times, Brian Timpone, the head of Locality Labs, is a Republican activist in Illinois who has founded several media companies that have produced networks of local websites and newspapers with content that reflects staunch conservative views.

Timpone ran a company that created local news stories for The Chicago Tribune, which ended its relationship with him in 2012 after it learned of complaints about faked bylines and plagiarism, according to The Tribune.

The only locally owned and operated news site in Livingston County is The Livingston Post — it’s also the ONLY place in Livingston County in which you get local opinions and editorials. WHMI-93.5, owned by regional media company Krol Communications in Owosso, does a wonderful job with local news.

You can read a fine piece by Buddy Moorehouse on the state of local journalism in Livingston County by clicking here.

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