Once, I was as a reporter. Then I became a survivor.
Since 2013, I’ve investigated Cal Coast News’ reporting. I was curious about the voluminous amount of unsubstantiated claims the website made about public officials and private citizens. The more I looked into their claims, the more I realized how easy it was for someone to turn people’s lives upside down if they had a news platform and used that platform irresponsibly.
But I would soon learn the consequences of my curiosity.
Cal Coast News falsely accused me of being in a conspiracy with a county supervisor to shut them down. Acting on that conspiracy, Cal Coast News co-founder Karen Velie threatened my employer and family. After sharing my story, Cal Coast News and their controversial contributors engaged in various harassment toward my family, friends, co-workers and anyone who “liked” my social media posts. This harassment was so extensive and bizarre that I decided to write a book documenting my experiences: Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community & Those Who Dared to Fight It.
Sadly, my story is not unique. Since I published my book, I’ve heard from countless families affected by Cal Coast News, Karen Velie and her network. I believe that in the post-truth era, there needs to be accountability. That’s why I started this movement.