David Brock is the guy who founded Media Matters for America. Not content to just take on (and declare victory against) Fox News, he has decided to launch a “journalism institute” to expose “the nexus of conservative power in Washington.” More via Dylan Byers at POLITICO:
The American Independent Institute, a relaunch of the former state-based digital news-gathering network of the same name, will provide grants to journalists and work with other news organizations on investigative projects targeting conservatives. Sam Skolnik, an editor and reporter who has worked at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Las Vegas Sun and The National Law Journal, will serve as director.
The institute’s first grants have gone to investigations into the Gun Owners of America and its “radical” leader Larry Pratt; the efforts of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to “undermine scientific inquiry”; and “the adverse impacts of the right-wing billionaire Koch Brothers’ business practices,” among others.
Several of the funded projects will appear in well-known progressive publications such as The Huffington Post, Harper’s and Washington Monthly. The investigation on Pratt and Gun Owners of America, by Alexander Zaitchik, will be featured on a panel discussion at the Open Society Foundations in July and co-sponsored by RollingStone.com.
Honestly, we do live in an era of diversified media, and so variations to the left and the right are to be expected. However, David Brock and Media Matters for America are not sources of journalism. That Brock would do this is a slap in the face to journalism.
Oliver Willis of Media Matters referred to himself as a research fellow in the world of journalism. Media Matters would have you believe they are doing the work of the journalism gods by “exposing” Fox News on a daily basis. What’s happening here is that the word “journalism” is being misused to make these people feel like they are being honest and fair.
Journalism is about reporting the news. It’s about finding the story, breaking it, and reporting it. Media Matters and other groups like them would like for you to believe “journalism” is about finding the conservative boogeyman and chasing him down, beating him down with annoyingly loud voices and then declaring victory.
Journalists have a bias. I’m not sure if you guys are aware, but I am a journalist with a rightward bias (I know it’s shocking). Most journalists lean to the left. That bias is evident when you watch the news. But, it is one thing for journalists to have a leftward bias and it is quite another for extreme leftists to call themselves journalist and use that banner to attack conservatives.
If you want the “purest” journalism, go to any small town in the U.S. and read the daily or weekly paper most of the town reads. With the exception of stories pulled from the wire or editorial pages, you’ll get actual journalism – finding stories that affect the people reading the paper. Small town papers, and even some medium-sized area papers, focus on the local. Newspapers, by and large, won’t completely fade away because people open one up for the town drama and pictures of their kids in the Lifestyles and Sports sections.
My hope is that people who actually are journalists are smart enough to not go anywhere near Brock’s endeavors. It isn’t journalism. It isn’t anywhere close. It’s a sham, and I truly believe that there are some folks out there who will realize this and realize that things like this – chasing the conservative boogeyman – are largely why people don’t trust journalism anymore.