Funded by a $5 million grant from Hellman, the project will combine the labors of the j. school interns and KQED-FM's staff to produce the kind of Bay Area news that has begun to disappear with the shrinking of the local daily newspapers.
Innovative, yes. Especially at a time when the news industry is desperate for solutions to keep it on life support. But still: Do we really want to turn investigative news-gathering over to interns? Or will their contributions be more like the stuff we read in the free weeklies that used to sit in our driveway for days? Does KQED-FM have the staff to adequately vet their stories and supervise their work? And what kind of credibility problems could arise when the whole project is funded by one donor. Will he keep his hands off?
In the words of one of my esteemed colleagues:
It's great to see people thinking of new ways to fund newsIn a less serious vein, but kind of not, the SF Weekly posts this somewhat snarky list of how Hellman's approach is likely to save journalism. No.5 reads as follows:
organizations, but I'm not sure this combination offers long-term
financial stability...a wealthy investor whose wealth fluctuates with
a troubled stock market, a cash-strapped public university, and an NPR
station that has had numerous funding problems over the years despite
being in one of the country's wealthiest areas. (See the stories on
KQED's financial problems related to its headquarters.) And while
corporate owners present all kinds of accountability issues, this
combination presents a whole different set of potential accountability
• Bank on the fact that college interns and former journalists will do anything to look important