You’ve heard that journalism is dead. Conservative talk host Sean Hannity has been saying it for years. But now, the Left, led by Mark Zuckerberg, is plotting with activists to take over local newsrooms across America, similar to the way the Facebook founder took over elections offices to tip the 2020 election to Democrats. The multi-million-dollar program is called Report for America (RFA).
Local news is in trouble. This is largely due to social media tech platforms like Zuckerberg’s and smartphones changing the way we receive news. Ad revenues cratered for local papers. They had to adapt to new economic realities. Lay-offs ensued. Reporters grew weary of serving multiple masters, including editors, local readers, and tedious social media responsibilities, instead of focusing on the collecting and writing of news.
The Democrats made a play for the newsrooms in their “Build Back Better” bill by proposing tax credits and government funding to newspapers. It was a move suggested by the founders of Report for America.
But are Mark Zuckerberg and the U.S. government the answer? Would their influence make local news better — or beholden? We know the answer.
When Hannity declaims the death of journalism, he isn’t talking about a dearth of journalists; he’s saying that mainstream journalism is filled with Leftist activists who report stories from their point of view, with a lack of objectivity and hewn to a specific conclusion or outcome.
Unfairness in the treatment of a story, the stories that are selected vs. spiked, the lazy lack of follow-through, bent sources, and no curiosity about another side of a story are what Hannity’s talking about. Sometimes he alludes to something worse, a mendacious bending of the news to suit a political point of view. These are the kinds of reporters being churned out by the nation’s journalism schools — just the kind of people RFA is looking for.
Now, Big Tech is doubling down on it all by embedding its like-minded children in local papers to do to journalism what Big Tech is doing to free speech and what Zuckerberg did to elections.
Since 2018, Big Tech, specifically the Facebook founder and others he’s brought along with him, has been paying for newsrooms to hire green reporters in a plan to seed America’s small-town papers with “volunteer” “corps members” doing “service” work to write “underreported” stories. You know, like the “volunteers” in Bill Clinton’s national service program, and Teach for America, and the food corps food police program in Portland, Ore. schools.
The McClatchy chain of newspapers, for example, had on its roster 31 RFA “corps members” at 21 publications, who were working beats that read like a Leftist activist’s dream portfolio, including, “housing, local government, climate change, COVID-19, gun violence, and communities of color,” according to The Columbia Journalism Review.
But, according to CJR, McClatchy has now opted back out of using RFA after the current “corps” completes its one-to-two-year cycle. It’s not known specifically why it’s untethering itself and its influential newspapers from the activist group, but the journalism review reported unnamed “sources” claiming it had to do with an op-ed written by the co-founder of the program, complaining about hedge fund ownership of newspapers. Several emails to McClatchy for clarification went unanswered.
Or, maybe, the newspaper group, which boasts The Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, and The Charlotte Observer, among many others, doesn’t want to be — what was the word again? Oh, yes, subsumed — and beholden to Big Tech in the way Amazon’s Jeff Bezos subsumed The Washington Post.
Considering that the activist journalists who founded the group support an effort to make newspapers beholden to a set of censorious Big Tech wokesters — who kick people (including the President of the United States of America) off Twitter, silence their speech on Facebook, and scrub their searches on Google — hedge funds, oddly, don’t seem quite so evil.
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Traditional newspapers, as you know, suffer from plunging ad revenue due to the same Big Tech oligarchs and their platforms. They’re looking for a way to continue to provide community news and still pay the bills. Big Tech billionaires don’t really care about, let’s say, The Everett Herald, unless it’s the extent to which they can direct the content via their fledglings. They’ve already subsumed, borrowed, stolen, curated, and disseminated the world’s published news, and then censored it on their platforms. As a result, Americans have got more news than we’ve ever had before, censored or not.
Big Tech has already signed onto the laughably Orwellian-sounding “Trusted News Initiative,” an information cartel that is the reason why most people don’t know antiviral medication ivermectin isn’t horse paste when used in humans. They’ll bring that point of view to local papers as well. Jeb at the local bait and tackle shop, Jimmy at the local garage, and Marjorie at the local nursery won’t see their views or news anymore, unless they’re woke.
In a way, Zuckerberg and the group of elites backing this Leftist idea (more on that later) is the camel’s nose under the tent. Google, Facebook, and Twitter already censor information — true information — on their platforms. Soon, they’ll do it at the local level.
Put another way, Left-wing hacks came in and took over the elections offices in cities in Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, among others. PJ Media colleague Matt Margolis reported that locals saw it as a take over.
Indeed, the Zuck Bucks, as they were called, were used mostly in swing states for the 2020 election to get Secretaries of State and local officials to change their election rules to make it easier to vote without verifying signatures, for example. COVID, you know.
The same Big Tech oligarchs who purposely hid censored information (Russia hoax, COVID information, Hunter Biden laptop horribles) to tip the 2020 election their way now want an even bigger say in your local news.
Report for America says it doesn’t want reporters to do “advocacy journalism,” but does want “to create a movement—an effort to re-establish journalism as a calling and a public service. We are unapologetically idealistic. This is about fighting for truth and strengthening our communities.”
Next Time: How it works.
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