Hundreds of sites that claim to be new local news organizations are actually funded by political interests, aiming to reach voters under the false banner of local news. A new analysis from NewsGuard examining four of these Red-rated, or generally unreliable, sites — the liberal Arizona Mirror and Up North News (Wisconsin), and the conservative Tennessee Star and Alpha News (Minnesota) — shows that it’s working.
All four sites have grown more popular in 2020. Arizona Mirror, Alpha News, and the Tennessee Star had more social media engagement (defined as likes, shares, and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) in the first half of 2020 than they did in all of 2019. Up North News did not exist until December, but from January to June, its engagement increased tenfold. (NewsGuard gathered this data from Newswhip and CrowdTangle, two social-media analytics tools.)