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Experts: 'Buckeye Reporter' showing up in Ohio mailboxes isn't what it appears to be

Buckeye Reporter
Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 04, 2023

DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Residents in the Tri-State have been getting something called the Buckeye Reporter in the mail. While it looks like a local newspaper at first glance, experts said it isn't what it appears to be.

Pat Taylor from Delhi Township is one resident who got the paper in the mail.

"I thought, 'Well, I don't know we've never seen anything like that.' I thought maybe it was like a Delhi Press," she said.

When Taylor looked at it closely, she realized it wasn't the Delhi Press, but something called Buckeye Reporter, which she hadn't seen before.

A journalism professor from the University of Cincinnati said the way it looks is deliberate.

"It's trying to pass itself off as something that it's not," Jeffrey Blevins said.

In the issue mailed out, articles quote several Republican politicians in favor of Issue 1, which would make it harder to change Ohio's constitution. Mentions of those advocating against Issue 1 are described in the Buckeye Reporter issue as left-leaning, like Black Lives Matter Dayton, or even The Communist Party while leaving out more center and right-leaning groups like the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.

"It exists to advance right-wing and conservative causes. It maintains websites that look like news websites, but are really just variations of this mailing," said University of Cincinnati Political Scientist David Niven.

According to the address on the paper itself, the paper is coming from Chicago. Its website said it's affiliated with Metric Media, which has similar outlets across the country.

The Buckeye Reporter said in a publisher's note it will "provide contextual and consequential information to give you the whole story."

"Folks get so many postcards, they get so many flyers and for a lot of people, those automatically go in the recycling bin without much thought," Niven said. "So this is an effort to get a little bit of attention."

The Buckeye Reporter said this is its inaugural print issue, but it's not the first time we've seen it pop up before an election.

"In Ohio, it popped up in the Republican primary for governor last year," Niven said.

Cleveland.com covered this at the time and reports the stories mostly included a statement from Gov. Mike DeWine's opponent, Jim Renacci and didn't not any attempts to get comment from other candidates.

Experts said that is one of the things that separate the Buckeye Reporter from a more legitimate conservative media outlet. Another is the factual errors that can be found in this issue, including the number of states that allow statewide initiatives to change the constitution.

"Your local TV news, your online newspapers, they, the way they should, they play it down the middle and they provide the context. And this is a way that's clearly designed to circumvent that," Blevins said.

Both Blevins and Niven also point out that while people know the Buckeye Reporter is coming from out of state, it is unclear who is funding it or where those people or organizations are based.