Chevron’s Richmond Standard news site draws criticism

Is the company’s branded local journalism site an example of a company providing a public service, or is it blatant propaganda, as some critics contend?

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Chevron is coming under fire for its Richmond Standard news website, which extends the brand journalism concept to something more akin to brand-sponsored journalism.

Critics such as Los Angeles Times writer Michael Hiltzik have objected that the website is full of “corporate PR disguised as community ‘news,’” despite the site’s above-the-fold declaration that it is, in fact, a Chevron website.

Is this a case of a company trying to shoehorn its propaganda into a content-marketing format, or is it truly a service to its community?

Under the site’s “news” header, you’ll find stories about how a local pastor found and returned a missing wheelchair to a four-year-old girl with spina bifida, and how local high school students are getting free, one-on-one help with writing. In the same manner, the “community views,” “sports” and other sections cover the local events and successes of Richmond, California, a Bay Area city of 107,000 residents.

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