Trust in media is at record lows as local news organizations dwindle away due to diminished ad revenues and circulation. Funding for journalists to engage in real investigative reporting is declining rapidly as even major publications no longer can afford robust newsrooms or beat reporters who don’t publish regularly. The information we use to make informed judgments is increasingly under threat.
It’s imperative that we stop this trend. We must treat journalism as the important safeguard to democracy that it is and free up a critical body of reporters from market pressures and incentives.
I will initiate the American Journalism Fellows, through which reporters from each state nominated by a body of industry professionals and selected by a nonpartisan commission will be given a 4-year grant of $400,000 ($100,000 per year) and stationed at a local news organization with the condition that they report on issues relevant to the district during the period of their Fellowship. This way, we will have hundreds of journalists in each state working on important news stories and will support local news organizations.
Journalism is a vital profession for a functioning democracy. We need hundreds of reporters digging into complex issues and stories to find the truth and share it with our citizens and sometimes to act as both a spur and a check on government and industry leaders. We should view journalism as a public good and support it in a way that ensures strong independent viewpoints that can speak truth to power.
Problems to be Solved
- Local news organizations are losing the ability to fund robust reporting.
- Stories are increasingly subject to market incentives that reward sensationalism and discourage thoughtful investigation.
- Mistrust of media is at an all-time high, making it very difficult to form a consensus on solutions or common goals.
- Provide resources to ensure a strong independent press
- Free up a critical mass of reporters from a need to meet market-based demands
- Affirm journalism as a profession
As President, I will…
- Invest in a National Journalism Fellows program that will select and invest in journalists in and from every state in the Union. Each State would have as many Fellows as Congresspeople (3 for Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska all the way up to 55 for California). They would each be funded by a 4-year grant of $400,000 and stationed at a local news organization.
- Fellows would be nominated by an industry body and selected by a nonpartisan commission. ¼ of the 535 Fellows would be nominated and selected each year for a 4-year term. Their Fellowship would be contingent on their reporting from a given district and state but immune from any other influence.