RICHMOND, CA: Chevron is working with Singer Associates on a community news site in Richmond, CA, the Richmond Standard, which it launched late last month.
The goal of the website is to give a voice to Chevron's Richmond, CA, oil refinery and to talk about the benefits the company brings to the city, said Singer senior account executive Mike Aldax, who is acting as the site's editor. He likened the portal to a mix of a “community newspaper and hyperlocal neighborhood blog.”
“The Richmond Independent closed in 1984, so the town has [had a dearth of] community newspapers since then,” said Aldax, a former reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. “A community voice was needed, so the Richmond Standard was created to fill that void. It is a place for the refinery to speak to the community, but also a place where the community can speak to each other, and to the refinery.”
Aside from the site's “Chevron Speaks” section, which was created as a place for the company to have a conversation with the community, the Richmond Standard is free of branded content, said Melissa Ritchie, communications specialist at Chevron's Richmond refinery. The site encompasses a news section, a spot for community views, a sports page, and an entertainment and food section. It also has Facebook and Twitter pages.
Aldax produces all of the site's content, which Chevron does not oversee, according to Ritchie. However, the biggest challenge is convincing local skeptics that the site's news is fair, balanced, and objective, he said.
“There are members of the community who are critical, questioning everything Chevron does, and we understand that. We are just asking for people to give the site a chance,” said Ritchie. “[Aldax] is going to continue to build trust with the community by reaching out to all of the city's officials, key players, and nonprofits, so he can build relationships and tell those stories.”
Since its launch, the Richmond Standard has received backlash from other local publications including the Richmond Pulse, which debuted in 2011.
Over the last four years, the company has invested more than $500 million with the Richmond community through local campaigns, including a monthly newsletter, community email blast, and billboard advertisements, said Ritchie.
“We do a lot of community engagement, and this is just one more way to engage with the community,” Ritchie said, adding that Chevron has no plans to launch news sites outside of Richmond, CA.