If ever there were a time for unbiased news, it is now.
It’s more important than ever to produce quality journalists and provide them with the best opportunities to grow under the leadership of professional news editors in objective news organizations.
Here’s an example of what can go wrong with a new journalist’s education and training when someone is not paying attention, tone deaf or agenda-driven.
Recently, an email that had been sent to a long list of graduates from the UW-Eau Claire Department of Communication and Journalism was shared with me. The email was penned by Jan Larson, professor and chair of the department. The email explains that there has never been a more important time to build quality journalists, but that was at risk because of newspaper layoffs and budget cuts. The letter seeks donations to place a promising Blugold journalist in an internship at one of two sites.
The first location is the Center for Investigative Journalism in Madison and, agreeably, it’s a great opportunity.
The second option is to place the intern at a new “online statewide news publication” that is owned by a progressive political organization called Acronym and other private investors. Because Acronym is a 501 (c)(4) political nonprofit that is not required to disclose the donations it receives, it has been widely described as a dark money group and received criticism for the lack of transparency in its funding structure. Its stated intention is “advancing progressive causes through innovative communications, advertising and organizing programs.”
The organization also owns Shadow, Inc., a technology company that made the mobile app that malfunctioned during the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus. They’ve been hired by or provided support to various organizations including Everytown for Gun Safety, Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The managing editor for the new online statewide news publication is a Democrat and former member of the Wisconsin state Senate from 2007 to 2011.
See any red flags? Did it take a lot of digging to figure all this out? No.
If your child just completed his or her journalism education at UW-Eau Claire, would you want their internship to be at a partisan-owned website? Would you feel comfortable with the head of the j-school recommending it?
We understand that journalism schools are under pressure; the class sizes at UW-Eau Claire are a fraction of what they once were.
And traditional newsrooms have been reduced and budgets cut. News sites with both conservative- and progressive-leaning agendas have popped up.
That’s why it’s the responsibility of every editor and every j-school instructor to make sure the next generation of journalists is unbiased in pursuit of the truth.
Rickman is publisher of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.