These California ‘Local Papers’ Are Part of a Shadowy Conservative Pay-for-Play Network

On Tuesday the New York Times identifies over a thousand such sites masquerading as traditional local newspapers

Photo by Bank Phrom / Unsplash

Nearly 80 local news sites in California are actually part of a propaganda network driven by Republican operatives and corporate P.R. firms, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

As the Times, Columbia Journalism School’s Tow Center, the Guardian, Michigan Daily and the Lansing State Journal reported earlier in multiple, separate investigations, the content on these sites is largely determined by political operatives, who are clients of this “pay-for-play” network. Said network pays freelance writers to promote Republican candidates, focus on conservative topics and attack Democratic opponents, often without journalistic due diligence, transparency and fairness. The rest of the content tends to be “algorithmically generated using publicly available data sets or by repurposing stories from legitimate sources,” according to the Columbia Journalism Review.

Outlets affiliated with the network operate in all 50 states and have names like “California Business Daily” or the “Fresno Leader” and, in some locations, are even published in print and delivered to doorsteps, according to the Times.

Though other partisan “local news” networks exist for both Republican and Democratic operatives, the network featured in the most recent report from the Times is one of the largest and is largely overseen by Brian Timpone, a former TV reporter turned conservative businessman.

Attempts to reach Timpone for comment were not successful, but in an interview with Deseret News last month, Timpone defended one of his companies behind the sites, Metric Media, as attempting to “rebuild and democratize community news across the country.”

Here are the 79 papers in California that are a part of this network, according to the Times (see the full list of papers here):

Antelope Valley Today
Calaveras Guide
California Business Daily
Central Alameda News
Central OC Times
Chico Times
Coachella Today
East Alameda News
East Contra Costa News
East San Diego News
East SBV Times
East SFV Today
East Sierra News
East Ventura News
Fresno Leader
Gold Country Today
Golden State Today
Imperial CA News
Kern County Times
Kings County Times
LA Harbor News
Lake Tahoe Sun
LAX Leader
Madison – St. Clair Record
Marin Leader
Merced Times
Monterey Times
NE Cali News
NE Sacramento News
North Coast California News
North Inland News
North OC Times
North Sacramento Today
North SFV Today
North SGV News
Northern California Record
NW LA Times
NW Riverside News
Oakland Record
Pomona Valley News
Redding Today
Redwood Empire News
Sacramento Standard
San Diego Record
San Francisco Sun
San Joaquin Times
San Jose Standard
San Mateo Sun
Santa Clara Today
Santa Cruz Standard
SE LA Times
SFV Today
SGV Standard
SLO Reporter
Solano Sun
South Alameda News
South Bay Leader
South Bay SD News
South OC Times
South Sacramento Today
South SF Bay News
South SFV Today
South SGV News
Southern California Record
Stanislaus News
SW Riverside News
Tulare Times
Verdugos News
Victor Valley Times
West Contra Costa News
West El Dorado News
West LA Times
West OC Times
West SBV Times
West SFV Today
West SGV News
West Ventura News
Wine Country Times
Yuba-Sutter Times


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