A rapidly growing network of nearly 1,300 websites fills a void created by the disappearance of local newspapers across the country. However, many of their stories are ranked by conservative political groups and public relations firms, a Times study found.
We publish the names of these websites so readers can see if the websites are targeted in their territory.
See the websites ›
We compiled the list using the Global Disinformation Index, an internet research group that analyzed the Google advertising and analytics data contained in the websites' digital codes to find links between the websites. We then confirmed sites were on the network by analyzing their layouts, bylines, privacy policies and "About" pages, interviewing employees and reviewing internal records of the companies behind the sites.
Columbia University's Priyanjana Bengani created a similar number of websites in August.
The network operates under a network of corporations, although it is largely overseen by Brian Timpone, a former television reporter who has tried for nearly two decades to capitalize on the decline of local news organizations. Mr. Timpone did not respond to several requests for comment.
As a guide, the various segments of the network include nearly 1,000 local news sites under the Metric Media brand. more than 50 business news sites; 34 news sites in Illinois under the Local Government Information Services brand; and 11 legal news sites owned by a group of the US Chamber of Commerce.
Some of the sites are down, and we've removed those from our list that are no longer available. In the past, dormant places have come to life when news reached the region it was targeting, as happened on the Kenosha Reporter site after protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, against the murder of an unarmed black man Police broke out.