The Institute for Southern Studies (ISS) is launching the Freedom Journalism School to train grassroots journalists from across the South. The problem they're addressing is a serious lack of watchdogs as traditional media has cut reporting staff again and again as profits have declined — who's left to watch the henhouse, so to speak.
Democracy only works if the public is informed, if they know about and understand the decisions that affect their lives. Yet as Big Media has fallen into fewer and fewer hands, ratings and profit margins have grown more important than the public's right to know.
An army of bloggers, citizen journalists and grassroots media outfits — some old, many new — have valiantly emerged to fill the vacuum and keep the public informed. As the Pew Center estimates, the number of Americans who regularly go online for news jumped 19% in the last two years.
But most new media journalists will be the first to tell you that they often lack the skills, experience and resources to carry out the in-depth and investigative journalism needed to keep our public informed and engaged.
Their initial goal is to train 50 new media muckrakers in the South. You can help with a tax-deductible gift to support the Freedom Journalism School. Their cause is also on Facebook if you're so inclined.
This is a great idea and I hope many of you will choose to get involved.