Media watchdog Media Matters for America is taking oil giant Chevron to task for its launch of a local “news” site in Richmond, Cal., the site of its 2012 refinery fire that led to a financial settlement of $2M for fines and restitutions.

richmond standardThe Richmond Standard says it aims “to provide Richmond residents with important information about what’s going on in the community and to provide a voice to Chevron Richmond on civic issues.”

The site features sections such as news, community views, food & entertainment, sports and Chevron Speaks.

The current Chevron Speaks section has a piece that raps an article from the Feb. 5 East Bay Express that the company claims contained “incorrect and misleading information” about the facility’s modernization project.

MM criticizes Chevron for “continuing a disturbing history of using propaganda disguised as news to promote its corporate efforts.”

Sam Singer, whose Singer Associates work for Chevron on projects and represent s its Richmond refinery, told O’Dwyer’s that local papers are the fabric that that hold communities together.

Richmond once had its own paper, the Richmond Independent, but it went out of business.

He said it was Chevron’s concept “to re-introduce a local, community-based newspaper online and that is how we came up with the concept of the Richmond Standard--a play on Chevron’s name, as it used Standard Oil Company and the Standard Richmond Refinery.”

Singer hired Mike Aldax to edit the online publication, which the San Francisco-based PR chief said “is generating significant support and readership in the Richmond area” since its January launch with a mission “dedicated to shining a light on the positive things that are going on in the community.”

The online site, continued Singer, is “clearly identified” as being managed and sponsored by Chevron.

He believes Chevron made a “a bold and important move in the rapidly changing history of journalism and newspapers.”

Rather than being attacked, it’s Singer’s view that Chevron “should be commended for attempting something that is beneficial to the community, the public, civic politics and the refinery itself.”

Creation of The Richmond Standard “could be a seminal moment in the history of new journalism and Chevron was there at the start.”