Note: This answers the original question of whether Examiner.com is a reliable news source. Based on remarks made by an executive editor of The Examiner, the website is a less reliable source than a newspaper.
However, that is not a valid reason to reject a claim published by the source. Judging an article by the company it keeps is a fallacy and in this case is probably poisoning the well. As always, we can only judge the soundness of an argument according to its reasoning, premises, and evidence.
Examiner.com published the article “‘Dangerously high pesticide levels’ found in Celestial Seasonings teas” by Roger Ziegler on March 22, 2013. Their front page currently features celebrity news, emphasizing legal and drug abuse scandals.
Wikipedia describes Examiner.com as a fast-growing news network with a blog-like platform:
Examiner.com is a media company based in Denver, Colorado, that operates a network of local news websites, allowing "pro–am contributors" to share their city-based knowledge on a blog-like platform, in 238 markets throughout the United States and parts of Canada with two national editions, one for each country.
The domain was previously owned by The San Francisco Examiner, a daily newspaper that was the “longtime ‘Monarch of the Dailies’ and flagship of the Hearst Corporation chain.” Philip Anschutz of Clarity Media Group acquired the newspaper and domain in 2004, transforming both:
Under Clarity ownership, the Examiner pioneered a new business model for the newspaper industry. Designed to be read quickly, the Examiner is presented in a compact, tabloid size without story jumps. . . . By February 2008, the company had transformed the newspaper's examiner.com domain into a national hyperlocal brand with local websites throughout the United States.
Clarity Media Group sold the newspaper in 2011 but still owns the website.
Wikipedia notes several issues with Examiner.com, especially:
- accusations of plagiarism and poor editorial oversight in 2007,
- substandard pay for some contributors, and
- a 79% drop in search traffic credited to Google tuning out “content farms” in 2011.
Some of these criticisms predate the website's current incarnation. For example, the plagiarism claims stem from an investigation by Matt Smith of SF Weekly in 2007, when Clarity still ran the website as an online companion to the newspaper (emphasis mine):
“They're blogs. They don't get edited,” explained Examiner executive editor Jim Pimentel. “We don't give any direction to people on what to write in their blogs. And that's standard operating procedure.”
Pimentel was unaware of [plagiarism] when I spoke with him Friday, but he told me the Examiner has a less-strict standard for accuracy and attribution in stories that appear on the Web. That's because online stories can be changed as journalistic problems emerge, while printed stories require publishing corrections, he said.
While Examiner.com did address the specific plagiarism concerns that Smith expressed, they still emphasize semi-professional blogging, and the impact of Google's search tuning suggests that the site is weak in original content.