Apparently, I’m the only one who is outraged.
In my last blog post, I outlined a relationship that exists between an organization called KISSPR and the Associated Press. It’s a cozy little venture in which KISSPR pays the Associated Press an undisclosed amount of money to have press releases placed on the AP website. Many of these press releases are thinly veiled advertisements for questionable products from questionable businesses masquerading as news. And the fine, upstanding products getting flogged through this relationship? Pre-written term papers, herpes treatments, hair-growth supplements, and psychic readings - just to name just a few.
How cozy is the relationship? KISSPR has their own directory within the AP’s Press Releases section on their site.
“Okay, fine…,” I hear you say, “If the AP wants to sell its soul and integrity, that’s their problem.”
Ah… but it isn’t just the Associated Press.
I decided to see just how much reach one of these stories had.
I randomly selected one of the recent “research paper writing service” press releases from the AP site. It had the title, “4 Best Research Paper Writing Services - Top USA Paper Writers Among 69 Tested - Review by Halvorson.”
From the body of the article, I chose a specific, likely-unique sentence (“The up-scale quality of writing services;") and tossed it into Google - locking down my search to return only those results with “research paper” in the title. I also removed Google’s default filtering of duplicate results:
Click here to see the results.
Here’s a list of sites that picked up this content:
apnews.com (obviously...) yahoo.com globenewswire.com ktvn.com wboc.com wrcbtv.com kake.com menafn.com digitaljournal.com unitedkindgomnews.net denvernews.net siliconvalleynews.net oklahomacitynews.net caymanmama.com
And, pray tell, what was the amazing content of this article - content that was picked up by so many news organizations?
It lists 4 recommended sites, giving coupon codes for two of them (oddly, the SAME coupon code works on both of them despite the fact that they are, no doubt, totally independent sites…). Nowhere in this fascinating piece of investigative journalism do they list the 69 sites they compared and (with the exception of the headline) they don’t even mention comparing 69 sites.
Please go back and look at my previous post because I’m about to say, “I told you so…” and I really, REALLY want you to SEE what I told you…
The second sentence of the review for the top research paper writing service says this: “You could see such trustworthy resources as Associated Press talk about this company as a reliable website to get a high-quality paper.”
And there you have it. The first death-rattle of the reputation of the Associated Press.
The Associated Press, with 170 years of commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism, being used to legitimize a skeevy purveyor of plagiarism.
(Note: “You could see such trustworthy resources as Associated Press talk about this company as a reliable website to get a high-quality paper.” Holy crap, that’s TERRIBLE writing. Seriously, it’s bad. I wonder where KISSPR could find someone to help them with their writing?)
Interestingly, the words “Associated Press” in that quote linked to another paid press release on the Associated Press website. This one is attributed as “Paid content from Prodigy News” and actually lands outside of the Press Releases section of the site. You know… out in the section supposedly used for… well… news.
Who is Prodigy News? I really couldn’t find much information on them (honestly, I wasn’t motivated to look very hard…) but in the strangest of coincidences, they use essentially the same wording for the “Content Disclaimer” at the end of their press releases as KISSPR (including the grammatically incorrect “website’s"):
Content Disclaimer: The information does not constitute advice or an offer to buy. Any purchase made from the above press release is made at your own risk. Consult an expert advisor/health professional before any such purchase. Any purchase made from this link is subject to the final terms and conditions of the website’s selling as mentioned in the above as source. The content publisher and its downstream distribution partners do not take any responsibility directly or indirectly. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the company this news is about.
Finally, who the heck is this “Halvorson” who is doing all of this fantastic in-depth research on paper writing services for the KISSPR piece? Who took on the mind-numbing task of reviewing 69 research paper writing services, yet failed to find one more to make it a round 70? Who is the word-smith who fashioned the sentence, “You could see such trustworthy resources as Associated Press talk about this company as a reliable website to get a high-quality paper.”
This is a true renaissance person - an author for the ages…
Halvorson: Women want to be with him, men want to be him.
But I digress…
Scrolling down to the bottom of the article, we find the following:
Company: Halvorson LLC Address: 3694 Westwood Avenue, NY, 11563 Phone: +12025550177
I did a little digging. There is no Halvorson, LLC listed in New York state’s business registry. There is no 3694 Westwood Avenue in the 11563 zip code, or anywhere else in the state of New York (or in the entire U.S. as far as I can tell…) and best of all, +12025550177 is a totally bogus number (202 is the area code for Washington, DC, but the 555 prefix is the central office code in the North American Numbering Plan and is often used for fictitious phone numbers.)
Oh… and the phone number used by the source for that other, Prodigy News, press release? +12025550177
Owner, Principal Consultant
Bad Wolf Security, LLC
Senior Technical Engineer
March 31, 2021
NOTE: I purposefully did NOT directly link to any of these press releases. Not just because I’m philosophically against giving further credence to the term paper peddlers. If I’m gonna to link to them, I’m gettin' paid… :-)