Kansas City Star is embarking upon a new “experiment” in which readers are not just the consumers, but also guinea pigs. This project, self-righteously dubbed the “Midwest Democracy Project“, is a collaboration between the KC Star, the “University of Kansas’ William Allen White School of Journalism and Communications” and the “University of Missouri School of Journalism and its Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute”, and hopes to find news ways of utilizing technology and social media to engage people – and most importantly, preserve “your democracy”.
While it may be commendable that journalism is scrambling to keep up with changing technology, it’s interesting that journalism has taken it upon itself to not just present the news, but be a beacon of Democracy. Let’s get real. Journalism is about making money – thus it should be talking about preserving capitalism. However – journalism has for a long while been the bastion of creatives who pride themselves on thinking and looking at things not with an unbiased “just-the-facts” approach, but as a different, uniquely insightful view that becomes a vehicle for their own propaganda. After all, who can resist slapping their name on an article, and the feelings of pride at the subtle jab or cleverly worded thought that steers the reader into feelings the author hopes to produce? Are facts no longer capable of moving papers? Do advertisers only wish to advertise in media which shares their own ideals? Perhaps.
Those who are already beginning to stir that the “Democracy Project” will be just another bull-horn for the press to yap about some liberal pet-project, may have some credence. After all, the KC Star doesn’t have the best track-record in just-the-facts news reporting, and writing that treats readers like responsible adults capable of thinking for themselves. However, the co-sponsors – the William Allen White School of Journalism and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute aren’t without their own special interests. William Allen White was a leader of the Progressive Movement – a movement which still survives today, and in which many modern Progressives (like Hillary Clinton) associate with the Democratic Party. Mr. White also opposed such people like William Jennings Bryan, and later wrote many editorials praising the New Deal (Socialistic?) policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Naturally White made a fortune in the newspaper business, and has utilized his success to help “educate” future generations of journalists. Is it a coincidence that perceived leftist thinking in the modern press has much in common with leftists like White?
As for the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism, The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the man for
whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has committed more than
$100 million to its National Journalism Initiative in the United States. RJI collaborates with news and technology companies, professional associations, foundations and individuals to generate and test innovative models and technologies for journalism and advertising. What exactly does this “National Journalism Initiative” mean? Is it wrong to think that boat-loads of money usually come with certain stipulations on how it’s used – particularly towards certain ideals or means of influence?
What does Democracy mean according to the KC Star, Donald W. Reynolds, and William Allen White? Is this a Constitutional Democracy as envisioned by our Founding Fathers? Or merely once again a relativistic notion of one-size-fits-all?