I made a blog post the other day titled, “All the News That’s Fit to Crowdfund,” discussing a project between the San Francisco Chronicle and Beacon Reader. The latter, a new entity, raises funds, presumably from “average Joes,” for small journalistic projects largely regarding immigration, in this case about H-1Bs.
In my post, I had speculated that the Chronicle, though having a history of balanced coverage on the H-1B issue, would tilt much more toward the pro-H-1B side in this instance. Actually, upon a second reading of their announcement, I see that their focus will be totally on H-1Bs and would-be-H-1Bs (the latter being those who are not lucky enough to secure a visa), rather than also covering the adversely impacted U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
That’s fine (though disappointing), but there is something much more important — Beacon has strong ties to the tech industry. Its initial funding is from Y Combinator a famous incubator for tech startups. Y Combinator incubated Dropbox, one of the major driving forces in FWD.us, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s organization that promotes expansive policies on H-1B and immigration in general. In addition, Beacon co-founder Dan Fletcher was formerly managing editor at Facebook. Small world, eh?
In other words, to some degree, the tech industry is determining what Chronicle readers see. The situation is just as troubling as the Washington Monthly project I mentioned in my last posting.
Former FWD.us president Joe Green stated upon the group’s founding that among its “tactical assets” was the fact that “We [the tech industry] control massive distribution channels,,,” Apparently the grand old San Francisco Chronicle is about to become one of those “channels.”