GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new report from the Columbia Journalism Review shows a major rise in “pink slime” journalism, a name given to websites masquerading as local news outlets but are either funded or owned by political interest groups.
The name comes from the meat filler of the same name, which is technically beef but lacks some of the nutrients and was created to appear real.
CJR’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism found approximately 450 “pink slime” sites last December. Now, they have found more than 1,200, many of which have launched in the past year.
The Tow Center found 45 sites claiming to be from Michigan. They have nearly identical websites and generic Facebook pages to post their articles, most of which is just information aggregated from other news sources (including News 8). Most of them are named similar to known newspapers, like “The Grand Rapids Reporter” or “The Kalamazoo Times.”
Those sites are all owned by a company called Metric Media. The Tow Center reports Metric owns about 80% of the known “pink slime” websites.
CJR’s analysts say the websites look professional enough to get past most critical eyes and generate shares on social media.
Those analysts also say some articles come with a political slant. Most of the sites found are either tied to conservative groups or appear to promote Republican candidates. But other sites promoting Democratic candidates have also been found.