For two years, I secretly wrote and published a book about CalCoastNews called “Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community and Those Who Dared to Fight It.”

I decided to write about my experiences with CalCoastNews. What happened to me was extraordinary, but it should not happen to anyone else.

I moved forward with publishing the book after concluding that they were unapologetic and unrepentant with their abusive conduct and abysmal reporting practices. This comes after the site lost their $1.1 million defamation verdict appeal and refused to address it with their readers. Instead of correcting or challenging them directly, I decided the best path forward was to publish my story.

Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community and Those Who Dared to Fight It
Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community and Those Who Dared to Fight It

After publishing “Defamers,” SLO County residents reached out to me to share their experiences with CalCoastNews. They struggled to read my book without opening previously closed wounds. Only a few of them managed to read the entire book, which is completely understandable. Having spent two years writing it, I endured seemingly endless, painful memories that sometimes I hoped to forget. And yet, these memories were undoubtedly helpful in telling a tale of the real dangers of maliciously spreading misinformation and disinformation in a community.

Was I the perfect, fair-haired victim? Not at all. I was provocative. I was ruthless. I challenged them when the mainstream media rarely did. The constant tit-for-tat, the attacks on my family and friends led me to making some demonstrably unwise choices. However, the choices I made forced me to learn hard lessons that made me a better person with a fonder appreciation for ethically sound journalism. My mistakes and hardships helped birth a desire to improve in areas they couldn’t and won’t.

In addition to clearing the air, this book is meant to be the conclusion of my analysis of CalCoastNews. I have no intent to cover them anymore. I rarely visit their website. Should they respond to my book — I can safely assume they will — I’ll carefully weigh my options.

If anyone has any questions or wants signed copies of my book, I’ll be attending a book signing this Saturday, March 9 at Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay from 2-4 p.m. Hope to see you there!


Aaron Ochs is a columnist, marketing entrepreneur and founder of SLO Truth. Ochs is also involved in his community as founder of Save Morro Bay (

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