The mayor and city council of Newark, New Jersey "hired a fledging newspaper called Newark Weekly News to publish 'positive news' about the city - and will pay $100,000 over the next year for it." The no-bid contract specifies that the paper will "generate stories based on leads" from the mayor's spokesperson and city communications staff. A senior scholar at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies said, "If you are publishing government propaganda in the guise of neutral, detached reporting, that's about as unethical as you can get." Rutgers University journalism department chair John Pavlik told the New York Times that the arrangement was "fake news." In New York, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg "picked up the endorsement of an influential black minister at a Harlem restaurant last month," some of the diners who "were quoted in news stories" as "regular people" were actually campaign volunteers. At least three people whose glowing quotes about Bloomberg were printed didn't identify themselves "as being affiliated with the campaign," reported the Boston Globe.
By Diane Farsetta on October 26, 2005