As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place

Other information organizations have raised issues concerning the political bent of a few of the websites. But the extent of the deceit has been hid for years with confidentiality contracts for writers and a complicated net of corporations that run the papers. Those corporations have acquired a minimum of $1.7 million from Republican political campaigns and conservative teams, in line with tax data and campaign-finance experiences, the one funds that might be traced in public data.

Editors for Mr. Timpone’s community assign work to freelancers dotted across the United States and overseas, typically paying $three to $36 per job. The assignments sometimes include exact directions on whom to interview and what to jot down, in line with the inner correspondence. In some circumstances, these directions are written by the community’s shoppers, who’re generally the themes of the articles.

The emails confirmed a salesman for Mr. Timpone’s websites providing a potential shopper a $2,000 package deal that included operating 5 articles and limitless information releases. The salesman harassed that reporters would name the pictures on some articles, whereas the shopper would have a say on others.

Ian Prior, a Republican operative, was behind the articles about Ms. Gideon, the Senate candidate in Maine, in addition to articles selling Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roy Blunt of Missouri, in line with the inner data. Mr. Prior beforehand labored for the Senate Leadership Fund, a political motion committee that has spent $9.7 million in opposition to Ms. Gideon.

Juan David Leal, who has labored in the Mexico workplace of the Berkeley Research Group, a consulting agency, ordered up articles criticizing the Mexican authorities’s response to the coronavirus.

And staff on the Illinois Opportunity Project, a conservative advocacy group, requested dozens of articles about particular Republican politicians in Illinois. The group has paid $441,000 to Mr. Timpone’s corporations, in line with the nonprofit’s tax data.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Collins, the Maine senator, mentioned the marketing campaign solutions questions “from media outlets of all stripes and persuasions,” together with the Maine Beacon, a local-news outlet funded by a liberal group.

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