LA-area water system says positive stories under fake bylines contained accurate information

Los Angeles Times

The Times reports that the Central Basin Municipal Water District has stopped using a news site that published positive stories about the agency, but it hasn't ended the contract with the public relations consultant that orchestrated them. Spokeswoman Valerie Howard tells the Times, “As far as we knew these were real writers.” Agency sources did interviews with the public relations consultant, not the writers. "It was our understanding that the (News Hawks) writers would get the byline, and edit it to make it more newsworthy,” she says. The Times reported earlier this week that the names on the stories, published on the News Hawks website, appeared to be fictitious. (The photo of "Mike Adams" turned out to be a guy at a Wisconsin food bank named "Cobra.") Still, Howard said in an email to Poynter that the information in the stories was accurate. || Earlier: Water district pays $200,000 for glowing coverage; Google News stops indexing the site that published them

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.

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