A new Pew Research Center report says emerging nonprofit news sources are often partisan, and generally opaque about their funding.
The study includes 46 US non-profit news sites launched since 2005. Via the Project for Excellence in Journalism:
Who are these new players in journalism? Are these sites delivering, as they generally purport to be, independent and disinterested news reporting? Or are some of them more political and ideological in their reporting? How can audiences assess this for themselves? In short, what role are these operations playing in the changing ecosystem of news?…
…In general, the more ideological sites tended to be funded mostly or entirely by one parent organization-though that parent group may have various contributors. They tended to be less transparent about who they are and where their funding comes from. And they tended to produce less content-in some cases generating one or two stories per week produced by a single staffer.
Sites that offered a mixed or balanced political perspective, on the other hand, tended to have multiple funders, more revenue streams, more transparency and more content with a deeper bench of reporters. The six most transparent sites studied, for instance, were among the most balanced in the news they produced.
Which is another way of saying that astroturfing has come to the newsroom.