Yes, the Cicilline-run Rhode Island Foundation “investing” in journalism should be controversial.
It’s strange to note, but Providence Journal political reporter Kathy Gregg got some heat from others in the local media (specifically from the Boston Globe) for writing this:
The political flap erupted a week after Cicilline – a leader in the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump – told the Boston Globe and more recently a group of journalism fellows that the non-profit, tax-exempt charitable foundation he heads intends to invest in “local journalism.”
“Supporting local journalism in a community is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Cicilline told Globe columnist Dan McGowan during a one-on-one on what’s ahead for the R.I. Foundation. (The foundation has not yet responded to inquiries about the well-endowed organization’s intention in the R.I. media landscape.)
Gregg’s social media take was even stronger: “Why do former @RepCicilline and the members of the board of the @RIFoundation want to put their thumbs on the scale of local journalism in Rhode Island?”
Journalists who object to Kathy’s curiosity give the sense of protesting too much — as if they’re hoping to enjoy the benefits of some of that “investment.” The Foundation is arguably the most powerful non-governmental organization in the state, after the labor unions. If the goal of journalism is (as journalists still like to say) to discomfort the powerful, well, the Rhode Island Foundation is the voice of the powerful. A sitting U.S. Congressman just left his position early in order to take its reins! Yet, many journalists are surely anxious to find their own comfort under its wing.
Cicilline makes it sound as if the intent is pure, innocent, even-handed support for local journalism as a social safeguard, but ask yourself: would he and the foundation fund Anchor Rising. Not a chance.
This plain observation has much broader implications. Things have been thus for a long while. Graduate schools and professorships, fellowships, grants… if you’re supportive of progressives’ social movement, or at least reliably silent about the issues central to it, then you have a chance. Otherwise, you’re out. And if they’re providing the funding for or management of an industry, whether the news media or higher education, that industry will quickly become little more than an ideological vessel. This is how progressives have come to so dominate the discourse, to the point that professors are happy to call for genocide in the Jewish state.
Turning this around, if it is possible, will be the work of decades, and the first step is observing the obvious reality that we face.
Featured image by Justin Katz using Dall-E 3 and Photoshop AI.