It appears that the Central Basin Municipal Water District is learning that answer. They are battling charges by the L.A. Times that articles written with glowing praise for the district, its program, and policies were the product of its media consultant publishing accounts under a pseudonym. By all accounts, the L.A. Times could not verify the existence of one of the main authors of the online news outlet News Hawks nor could they confirm the biographical information of other writers.
Since the story broke, the byline credit for the questionable articles has changed from an unverifiable persona, Mike Adams, to the generic “publisher.” What has happened is that the staff writers section of the website has had biographies and contributors removed.
Good press, but purchased press, may end up becoming a liability for the district.
From the Los Angeles Times:
There seemed to be no doubt that Mike Adams was a productive journalist, even if his beat was a bit obscure: the Central Basin Municipal Water District.
In recent months, he churned out more than 20 stories on the water wholesaler based in southeast Los Angeles. He wrote about recycled water that kept the grass green on street medians and parks. About the computer system a college used to irrigate its landscaping. About a water-saving youth soccer field.
The only mystery, really, was Adams himself. The Times could not find evidence he exists.
Read the full article here.