They're positioning the new site "Sugar String" as a well-funded competitor to Wired, but reporters are not allowed to mention NSA spying (in which Verizon was an enthusiastic partner) or net neutrality (which Verizon has devoted itself to killing, with campaigns of overt lobbying and covert dirty tricks).
Cole Stryker, Sugar String's editor-in-chief, sent recruiting letters to reporters last week offering them jobs at the site on the condition that they pretend that the major investor's major embarrassments — which have made headlines all over the world on a virtually daily basis — didn't exist.
Reporters are, however, permitted to write about net neutrality violations and mass surveillance by governments not allied to the US, particularly China.
This is part of a worrying trend: as Patrick Howell O'Neill points out, Chevron bought the Richmond Standard with money it found between the sofa cushions and now the paper reports on everything except negative press about Richmond's enormous Chevron refinery.
Virtually every story currently on the front page of SugarString—articles about GPS being used by law enforcement, anonymity hardware enabling digital activists, and artists on the Deep Web—would typically include information on American surveillance of the Internet or net neutrality to give the reader the context to make sure she's fully informed.
But none of the current articles do that. At best, they dance around the issue and talk about how other countries aside from the U.S. conduct surveillance. That self-censorship puts blinders on the reader, never giving her all the information she should have—information that, not coincidentally, tends to make Verizon and other powerful interests look very, very bad.
Verizon is launching a tech news site that bans stories on U.S. spying [Patrick Howell O'Neill/Daily Dot]
(Image: The three monkeys: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, John Snape, CC-BY-SA)