Local news lookalike sites cause Hoosiers concern

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INDIANAPOLIS – Before you share an article on social media, do you know where the content is coming from? There are ways to verify your information is from a legitimate news source.

Indiana Business Daily, the Hoosier State Today and the Indy Standard all sound like any other credible news source. If you look closer, there are some differences.

“These sites don’t pass the smell test as far as I’m concerned,” said Indiana Republican Strategist and Vice President of Bose Public Affairs Group Pete Seat. “They seem to be politically motivated if not politically funded websites that are masquerading as local news outlets.”

A quick online search leads to the parent company of these sites, Metric Media LLC. It has created hundreds of sites across the country most in the last two years. Sites like Indiana Business Daily – which has been targeting the race for Indiana Attorney General with its posts lately.

The articles may list an author, but you can’t find anything about the person. Other times, it just sources a press release or the company’s name. The New York Times reported on this company back in October of 2019.

“It’s dangerous when voters don’t know the difference and voters don’t take the time to research these outlets on their own because they just want to believe the news that they want to believe,” said Seat.

We reached out to every email and phone number we could find from Metric Media, its news outlet Facebook pages and even messaged people who claimed to be writers on Twitter with the same name as these authors but haven’t heard back from anyone.

“If they are real, they will respond, you’ll be able to find a trail behind them,” said University of Indianapolis Political Science Professor Dr. Laura Wilson. “They probably have their own website they’ll certainly have their own social media sites where they are sharing the stories of what they are doing they are sharing what they are talking about.”

Wilson is constantly telling her students about the importance of verifying information.

“With this company, what’s really concerning is they use local names, so they are trying to pass it off as community news which is oftentimes seen by people as being more authentic, more verifiable,” said Wilson.

Wilson recommends getting information from multiple news outlets. You can contact candidates yourself or head to non-partisan informational voting websites.

“A lot of this comes down to the voter and they need to do their due diligence to decide what is credible and what is not credible,” said Seat. “But what you have is this particular organization, which has hundreds of websites across the country, is exploiting a shift in our society that has gone from messenger driven news to message-driven news.”

Seat said society used to place a premium on the news outlet.

“We may not have agreed with what they were reporting but we at least gave it the time of day and the benefit of the doubt,” said Seat. “Now, it doesn’t matter what platform is used as long as we agree with the message contained within. We are going to share it!”

Seat hopes that changes.

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