Google wants to help fund 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms.
Partnering with an organization Report For America (RFA), Google wants to build a national service project around journalism. They’re even afraid of the term: “That might make some journalists uncomfortable – the idea of service and patriotism, said co-founder Charles Sennott, founder and CEO of the GroundTruth Project.”
“But at its most fundamental, local journalism is about protecting democracy, he said.”
Here’s how RFA will work: On one end, emerging journalists will apply to be part of RFA. On the other, newsrooms will apply for a journalist. RFA will pay 50 percent of that journalist’s salary, with the newsroom paying 25 percent and local donors paying the other 25 percent. That reporter will work in the local newsroom for a year, with the opportunity to renew.
Of course there’s a catch.
RFA is a partnership between Google News Labs and the Groundtruth Project. The Groundtruth Project’s mission is (from its website):
The GroundTruth Project is a non-profit media organization dedicated to supporting a new generation of international correspondents and documentary filmmakers to go out in the world to produce social justice journalism that enlightens and informs,
It’s not just any journalism. It’s “social justice journalism.”
I would guess that diversity, inclusivity, open-mindedness, and all the other hallmarks of “protecting democracy” will be the norm for RFA. So, that being the case, I would assume they won’t ask about views on abortion, or Christianity, or global warming, or evolution, or home schooling, or political affiliations, or if the emerging journalist seeking employment owns a pickup truck.
RFA also gets support, and its reporters will get training, from the Center for Investigative Journalism, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Solutions Journalism network and the Knight Foundation (which funds my job covering local news at Poynter).
The executive director and CEO of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism is Jim Friedlich. Like many journalists, he hasn’t given directly to candidates, but in 2016 he did give $1,776 to a group called “We’ve Got Your Back.” In turn that group gave to groups like “Art Not War” that also received cash from Moveon.org, Priorities USA Action, et al.
I suppose I could go down the list of all the executives and leadership of all those groups hunting for someone who isn’t a far-left liberal, and I might find one tucked away in the cobwebs, just one word away from a ball gag and duct tape. But that would take a lot of time, and I think the results would be what I expected.
Game the system
Not to worry, though. Every system can be gamed. What we need to do is find several thousand emerging journalists to apply through RFA, and media newsrooms to employ them. The more the merrier.
If Google wants a thousand journalists, let’s give them ten thousand.
At least some of these journalists might make it through the pedigree check. My guess is the majority will be sent away, having failed the “character” element of selection criteria.
But that in itself is a story. Because if a Christian baker can be made to bake a gay wedding cake and deliver it to the ceremony, performed by a Christian pastor at a Christian chapel, all impressed against their wills by the power of the state, then surely Google and RFA can be made to accept a conservative journalist into their program.
Or possibly, the bad publicity might force them to shut it down.
What publicity? Because the existing liberal media will bury the story.
Well. Maybe that approach won’t work.
Do it ourselves
Conservative journalism is suffering. Even the main power centers of conservative media: talk radio, are experiencing a bit of a dip from the division over President Trump.
It’s not that the audience isn’t there, it’s just that friendly fire has taken a toll.
This will not be forever, but I suspect that liberals see an opening here, leading to Google’s effort to stuff the minor leagues, so to speak, and load the benches for the next 20 years.
This need not happen. If Google and RFA won’t take conservatives, then we must find deep pockets in conservative circles who will fund our own effort.
If this is you: a person of high net worth who’s willing to give Google a run for their money, now is a good time to act. I can think of many worthy recipients (starting with this website) that struggle to pay emerging conservative journalists.
Now is the time to fight the battle for the next generation of journalists. Doing it in 20 years isn’t an option.