The concept was simple, and the editor/writer unassuming, with a checkered past, a few run-ins with the law and a pension for the creative arts, and charmingly rhetorically smart reporting of what he sees. Frustrated with the “Butler Eagle” not publishing the news, Justin McClastlyn decided to take matters into his own hands.
From a laptop computer in his own home, he began attending court, began listening to police scanner. He began publishing the local news that none of Butler County was actually reading in the papers.
He is blunt, candid, critical and his articles come laced with opinions, half news, half editorializing. They are short and to the point. Instead of posting mugshots issued by the jails, Justin reaches further. He finds the facebook photos of the accused. Some of the crimes he publishes are dirty crimes, and Nancy Grace worthwhile. He has little sympathy, more an annoyance, with the constant WalMart robberies and drug arrests. He ridicules almost as much as he reports. You can tell he is enjoying himself.
Justin quickly developed a following, as one of the hottest news outlets in a small sector of Pennsylvania. He was an overnight sensation, here was the news that people weren’t getting from the one paper, Butler Eagle, with a monopoly across his county. Justin presents the news without a journalism degree, and with little concern of libel or syntactical correctness. Castilyn went viral, people had to read it because it was real. It’s raw, honest, almost gossipy small town news, and people in Butler respond to it.
Despite being an overnight sensation, Castilyn has faced a number of critics. It seems all if funny and well and good until you, yourself are the target of a Castilyn article. There is something reminiscently “Nancy Grace” to the genre he has cultivated, yet it is uniquely Butler and uniquely his. Ridicule Butler News all you want, but his readership and following are formidable. People might check Butler Eagle for the school closings and obituaries, but people come to Castilyn’s page to find out what is really going on. In that same vein, it’s become a sort of town hall where people exchange news and gossip and opinions amongst themselves. Castilyn, unlike the Butler Eagle, doesn’t censor, and the atmosphere of the online forum in which he created is unique all into itself. And with the abrupt, spontaneous, unplanned town halls erupting on his page, he has developed a distinctly sensitive pulse on his community.
But it’s far beyond a rumor mill or gossip pages. Castilyn reports on other less seemly news that the local newspaper likes to brush over. He reports on Judge Doerr’s activities. Judge Doerr is being sued by a former courthouse employee, and the rumors of his misconduct while in the robe were far and wide. Butler Eagle might have mostly glossed over this unsightly news, Butler News salivates with it. Castilyn publishes pleadings as they are posted on dockets, his coverage is sardonic, fearless and – likely to Judge Doerr – infuriatingly damning to a once respected Judge’s political career. Castilyn isn’t out for Doerr to spoon feed him the next breaking story, he’ll get it anyway, and if he gets that story second hand, he’ll do a better job than the lazy small town competition in bringing on the honest facts and sordid details, Butler Eagle. Castilyn digs into it, he’s not worried about pissing off his sources, he’s into the quality of the press he creates.
Castilyn’s only nemesis is not Judge Doerr. People react differently to Castilyn. Castilyn has faced death threats, his home being attacked under gun fire, hate mail, backlash and general outrage from members of the community. He is unphased by it, in fact – for the most part – he welcomes it with amusement. Not everyone has the guts to say what everyone else is already thinking in the room, Castilyn doesn’t shy away from that controversary. He basks in it, and has been able to become a self sustaining independent news outlet. Google now buying enough ads at the bottom of his pages so he can even make a decent living, a decent living at something he was doing for free anyway.
It amuses him. Butler amuses him. He ridicules and makes fun of some of the darker aspects that are characteristic to the region. Suddenly the drug overdoses on six o’clock news take on a sardonic comedy. Sure they are still sad, but Castilyn goes beyond reporting the incident. He looks into the individual, and without apology, calls it as he sees it. The reaction, as you can imagine, has been mixed. But what cannot be contested is the massive following Butler News has developed seemingly overnight.
He’s no holds barred with his opinions, and the local political scene regards his outspokenness with some amount of healthy fear. Castilyn’s a rare breed, you either are going to love him or you are going to hate him. But the beauty of it is that he doesn’t care.
Here are some recent notable posts:
- :Why is Butler School district broke? This would be a good reason why. Stupid spending!” https://butlercitizen.com/2018/03/13/basd-to-purchase-530-ipads/
- “Some that have children to abuse the system live better then the working class.” https://butlercitizen.com/2018/03/12/cuts-finally-coming-to-those-who-get-section-8-housing/
- Click the link to see the names of the people who filed a PFA this week. The mindless drama of Family court” https://butlercitizen.com/2018/03/12/family-court-schedule-tuesday-march-13-2018/
- There is no justice for this child killed in this case. Cys failed, the mother laughed and carried on in court, and the father failed this child. https://butlercitizen.com/2018/03/07/mackenzie-peters22-pleas-out-to-36-months-probation-after-her-4-year-old-son-was-raped-and-killed-by-jordan-lambing/
- Her explanation is the perfect articulation of “ghetto” : https://butlercitizen.com/2018/03/07/pregnant-woman-arrested-after-she-assaults-her-boyfriend/
- She knew about what was going on, there is a history of abuse-she did not care, sources tell me she writes to Lambing under an assumed name. NO JUSTICE Click : https://butlercitizen.com/2018/03/07/mackenzie-peters22-pleas-out-to-36-months-probation-after-her-4-year-old-son-was-raped-and-killed-by-jordan-lambing/the link to read the details of how Peters got away with Murder
Stylistically, it might be the case that no paper would hire Castilyn. He also doesn’t care about that, he has his loyal readership. He gets everything from glowing reviews to hate mail, and he proudly republishes both. One might think that people would have caught on by now: If you are going to send Justin Castilyn hate mail, he will certainly proudly and immediately repost it so the rest of his loyal following can mock it. It’s fearless, and unapologetic… It’s the way you only wished your local news would report truthfully, with a vintage local voice that speaks to a massive volume of readers.
Then there are others, AJ Ayers, for example who neither love, nor hate Castilyn, but they are envious. Ayers recognized the stroke of brilliance in Castilyn’s reporting and Castilyn’s formidable number of fans, and created his own “Butler News” page. A nemesis between the two formed. Castilyn, obviously and understandably, pissed someone was trying to replicate his original idea, and Ayers – unable to understand how Butler News could be so successful, while his venture was sub par and lacked the following.
Castilyn will confidently tell you that no “nemesis” with Ayers actually exists. He chalks it up as AJ is more of a nuisance than he is a threat. The battle ensued first over social media, and then escalated to AJ sitting outside Castilyn’s house “watching him,” then that escalated further to AJ Ayers “shooting up” Justin’s home in the middle of the night. It’s terribly amusing, particularly since neither Castilyn nor any of his family members were hurt. Castilyn presses on, even going so far as to showing up at AJ Ayer’s arraignment for the destruction of property/shooting incident with a camera. Ayers was removed from court yelling and screaming, his profanities could still be heard in the main courtroom even after he exited the room. Castilyn can be loudly heard chuckling on the tapes.
Castilyn seems unphased, even entertained by this, as do his followers who can’t get enough of the ridiculous soap opera. Ayers appears more to be a scary stalker rather than a viable threat to the Butler News Network, which now gets more hits a day than the Butler Eagle on their website. Its where people in Butler go to hear the “actual news”; it’s not the same rag as the Butler Eagle. There is no restraint, no censorship, and a social and political rawness to it. Ayers attempted to duplicate the Butler News model because it was admittedly overpowering to local competing “official” news outlets.
Castilyn never shut down the website after he started being watched by this nutty stalker, and to show up at the arraignment with a camera and post the dramatics really shows what Castilyn is all about: He’s about good press. To him it’s all about good press…. And clearly this small town Butler local publishing the press from his laptop has challenged the very legitimacy of the Butler Eagle, simply by being widespread and popular and discussion point.
It’s all about the press for Castilyn, and he is giving the local “legitimate” news outlet a run for their money, which is highly entertaining to me. I don’t know what constitutes good press anymore, but what I can tell you is that it’s readership, and Castilyn has no shortage of that.
The Castilyn Ayers soap opera continues, and Castilyn is smugly entertained. Though Castilyn has made a small but healthy living on his underground news source, even if he didn’t get paid, I have a feeling he would be doing it for free anyway. He loves the work, and is apparently a natural by his massive following.
You can read Castilyn’s page here: https://butlercitizen.com/
Kudos for a small town citizen putting his local news force to task. This guy is going to end up running his hometown flunky paper into the ground. Highly entertaining, highly real, highly localized, sometimes so controversial that you just CAN’T stop reading.
It’s a new, hybrid, innovative breed of journalism, that is massively amusing. I highly recommend.