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Dallas Morning News to Take Foundation Money (and Conflicts) on Education Beat

Posted on 08 December 2020

Liberals used to object to how newspapers were too conservative because their general coverage was somehow compromised by accepting advertising from car dealers and supermarkets and other capitalist enterprises. Liberals do not see any conflict in newspapers accepting money from charitable foundations, explicitly directed to "robust reporting" on their pet issues and “marginalized populations.”  The website Editor & Publisher touted how The Dallas Morning News was accepting local foundation money to fund its “Education Lab,” or to be plainer, the bulk of its education journalism. "The community funded journalism initiative will cover important issues in education and deepen the conversations the newspaper has with students, parents and educators." Their model was the “Education Lab” of the Seattle Times, whose "community funded journalism" was funded by, among others, the leftist billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon. Are those disinterested nonpartisans? The Morning News felt the need to announce that they will retain full editorial control. Editor Mike Wilson insisted “We have a strong agreement with our funders that we are the ultimate editorial authority on everything.” But if the funders have strong interests in local education initiatives, will the newspaper’s readers be made aware of the conflicts?   For example, the Todd A. Williams Family Foundation is backing a group called the Commit Partnership, so will all stories on the Commit Partnership note the connection? The Meadows Foundation is funding a group called the E-3 Alliance in Austin. Will the editor of this project keep track of all the potential pitfalls of being funded by the advocates and "reformers" all over the scene they're reporting on?  Will teachers unions be questioned, or merely favored?  Dave Scullin, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas, said one of the best ways to strengthen the area’s education ecosystem was to elevate the voice of educators, and build public awareness around what is happening locally. “Having robust reporting, highlighting what’s working and what’s not, and keeping it visible in front of your readers — I think there can be an enormous amount of community good by just continuing to provide great journalism,” Scullin said. Meadows Foundation CEO Peter Miller proclaimed “Education leads to life opportunities, and the more we can bring resources and best practices to our marginalized populations, the better it will be for our communities and the state of Texas." One can easily guess that more conservative-favored education initiatives for marginalized kids -- like school choice -- have been greeted with hostility by the Morning News editorial staff.