There’s a new website that publishes news in Texas. It is managed by Chevron.

A puppy rescued and returned to its rightful owner. Free back-to-school haircuts offered in Odessa, TX. And… a new solar energy field in the Permian Basin that would reduce Chevron’s “carbon intensity”.

It’s a sampling of the titles you’ll find on a new website called Proud Permian, serving the Oil Basin region that stretches from West Texas to New Mexico. Now you may have noticed that one of these stories, the one on Chevron’s carbon emissions, exceeds a little. That’s because the site is actually sponsored by oil giant Chevron and functions as something of a news outlet, part corporate PR outlet.

Molly Taft is a staff writer for Gizmodo’s climate change blog, Earther, and she took a closer look at Permian Proud for her story.”Chevron jumps into the Texas news wilderness with stories about puppies, football and oil.” The following is an edited transcript of his conversation with Marketplace’s Andy Uhler.

Andy Uhler: So set the scene for us here. You go to the Permian Proud site. What kind of things do you see? It’s not strictly about saying, “Hey, oil and gas, that’s great. Those are the big things we do,” aren’t they?

Molly Taft: Of course, yeah. And I think that’s one of the trickiest things about it, right, it’s to Chevron’s credit, they’re making no secret that they paid for it. Chevron is in the logo, you know, there’s a footer saying it’s paid for by the Chevron Corporation, there’s a big Chevron ad in the middle. But the front page is actually mostly local news. And it takes a bit of scrolling and really wanting to check out the site to get a better idea of ​​what it’s all about.

Uhler: You contacted Chevron. What did they say on the site?

Taft: Yeah, you know, I mean, they were very direct. They said the site was created for – I think the direct quote is “aiming to provide regional communities with information that is important to them”. They push this presentation of themselves as a good community partner very much and create this site to spread positive information about the community.

Uhler: And that’s a very important part of that, isn’t it? There’s kind of a dearth of local news, just in general. And so there’s room for a company like Chevron to step up and do that.

Taft: Exactly. And what we’ve found by looking at local news desert statistics is that the Permian has seen a lot of loss in local news over the last 15, 20 years. And his [in] this vacuum that Chevron is presenting this new site. And I think that’s what makes it so disturbing.

Uhler: And that’s interesting, too, because what Chevron is doing is by no means illegal. It’s just not really in the spirit of journalism, it seems, is it? Is this the kind of catch?

Taft: There was a story, I believe The Miami Herald reported on a public service in Florida fundamentally [bankrolling] this news site to post positive information about the utility. So that’s not what’s happening here. I want to be very clear: Chevron has been very candid. But honestly, it’s even a little more detrimental because they trust their status as a recognizable company. And to be fair, they provide a lot of jobs in this area. It is an extremely important industry for the people who live there. There might not be immediately reason for an average reader to be wary of something presented by Chevron.

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Sherry J. Basler