One way to avoid bad press is simply to own the presses. Chevron has decided to jump directly into the media business with the publication of the Richmond Standard. A publication based in Richmond, California where Chevron is under increasing pressure over concerns about environmental damage the company may be causing in the town.
The site has a “Chevron Speaks” section and has been hiring former reporters to write articles.
Advertising itself as “community-driven news” the site claims “We aim to provide Richmond residents with important information about what’s going on in the community, and to provide a voice for Chevron Richmond on civic issues.” Though claiming a broad mantle, it might not be so surprising to learn that the views of the “community” the site promotes align perfectly with Chevron’s business goals.
One post in the “Community Views” sections is called “Jobs before politics, please” which says:
It’s my job as community activist to say to you, our city leaders, that Chevron is a participant not just a provider. They provide for nonprofits all over this community. And also they are the main player of Richmond. Without Chevron we’d be like Vallejo – broke. So can’t we all just get along? If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Our community is tired of falling for anything.
The “editor” for the news outlet is Mike Aldax, a former reporter with the San Francisco Examiner whose twitter stream reads like a Chevron PR hack.
— Mike Aldax (@MikeAldax) March 17, 2014
Chevron usually pays PR firms to promote and write stories it likes, but now it seems Chevron also wants to produce content directly. And given the laziness of the American media and internet curators how long will it be before people start using the stories produced at the benign sounding “Richmond Standard” as a source for news on Chevron?
Though the attempt seems lame it may prove effective in the world of unsourced content and endless aggregation.