October 5, 2023

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What is ‘pink slime’ journalism?

“Pink slime” journalism is named after a meat byproduct and describes outlets that publish poor quality reports that appear to be local news.

  • In the past decade, many local news sites have either gone out of business or are struggling to survive, and pink slime sites have replaced them.
  • These outlets claim to cover local and hyperlocal news, sometimes taking advantage of news deserts.
  • Pink slime sites are frequently produced via automation and templates. Look for text that’s more generic than expected, or articles that are pure information without context — that’s a giveaway you’re looking at a pink slime website. 
  • Often, they’re funded by outside companies with a partisan source of financing.

How can I spot it?

It takes a critical eye to spot these websites out in the wild. Here’s how to figure out if what you’re reading comes from a legitimate news site or a pink slime site, from MediaWise:

[Read more from MediaWise: ‘Journalistic meat or fraudulent filler’ – What is pink slime journalism?]

  1. First, do some lateral reading to investigate whether the site is trustworthy. Find out who runs the outlet and look into their political tendencies. A hallmark of good journalism is objectivity, so if the site is pushing an agenda, it is probably not legit.
  2. Read the “About” page and try to figure out who funds the site. Does the money come from a source that is pushing a particular point-of-view? Always question sites that are sketchy about where their money comes from. A credible news source is always transparent about its funding.
  3. See if any fact-checkers, such as PolitiFact, Snopes or other reputable sources have said anything about the site’s legitimacy.
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Annie Aguiar is an audience engagement producer for Poynter’s newsroom. She was previously a state issues reporter for the Lansing State Journal and graduated from…
Annie Aguiar

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