Two months ago, Roger Pynn wrote about the Central Basin Municipal Water District of California that, under contract with its PR firm, Coghlan Consulting Group, paid to place fake stories on an online news site. At the time, the website was indexed by Google News and included several positive stories that would appear whenever someone searched for the organization.
As if the first breach of ethics wasn’t enough, Coghlan and the Central Basin are coming under fire again for fabricating information about the “journalists” who wrote for the News Hawks Review website. The Los Angeles Times reported that photos, educational backgrounds, work experience and even the identities of the bylined reporters had all been falsified.
Rather than paying for fake news on a fake news website, the Central Basin should have spent its time, money and efforts communicating with its publics in a transparent manner. Instead, it’s now a dark spot on the reputation of our often misjudged profession.