The head of a prominent centrist advocacy group quietly seeded a news outlet that provides a steady stream of positive coverage for her organization and its board members' lobbying clients, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The fragmentation of digital media means virtually anyone can be a publisher. When public affairs intersects with political coverage, it can blur the lines between news and advocacy.
The big picture: The Well News says it "reaches more than 5 million Americans" through its website, videos and social media channels.
Between the lines: Like most news outlets, TWN relies on advertising revenue. Its website is frank about the opportunity that it provides its financial backers.
The intrigue: Philip Morris isn't just a TWN advertiser. It's also a lobbying client of Center Forward board member Jeff Murray.
TWN's centrist editorial outlook naturally aligns it with the policy goals of Center Forward, its board members and its financial backers. But the lack of disclosure means readers aren't made aware of that overlap.