The editors at Bloomberg Businessweek probably didn’t mean to help make the case for the Heritage Foundation’s new media venture by titling their article about the topic “The Tea Party Gets Into the News Biz.” But the headline makes a useful point: Mainstream media outlets tend to be woefully ignorant of conservative ideas and organizations.
The Heritage Foundation predates the Tea Party movement by decades and has devoted its resources to conservative policy proposals, not the grass-roots activism more closely associated with the Tea Party.
It’s unlikely that Heritage reporters will make the same sloppy mistake as Businessweek‘s headline writers in their own news coverage.
Now Heritage has a new plan to exert its influence and, its leaders hope, win converts to the cause. On June 3 it will begin publishing the Daily Signal, a new digital news site whose primary focus will be straight reporting. “We came to the realization that the mainstream media had really abdicated the responsibility to do the news and do it well,” says Geoffrey Lysaught, vice president of strategic communications at the Heritage Foundation, who will also serve as publisher. The site aims to rectify the conservative perception that mainstream news slants to the left. “We plan to do political and policy news,” says Lysaught, “not with a conservative bent, but just true, straight-down-the-middle journalism.”
How does this help Heritage? The Daily Signal will also publish an opinion section aimed at a younger audience that isn’t thumbing through the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. Heritage is betting that these readers, attracted to the Daily Signal’s news, will find themselves persuaded by the conservative commentary and analysis that will draw on the think tank’s scholars and researchers.
The past few years have seen a profusion of conservative media outlets, with titles such as the Daily Caller and Breitbart News joining standbys like National Review and the Weekly Standard. Although their content varies from red meat to sober policy analysis, all are aimed at fellow conservatives. “You often sense there’s an element of preaching to the choir,” says Katrina Trinko, a well-regarded political reporter lured away from National Review to manage the Signal’s news team. “What appealed to me was that our goal is not just to reach that audience. Obviously, we hope conservatives will come. But we hope anyone interested in information and public debate will see us as a trusted news source.”
Is there room in the marketplace of ideas for a news source with an ideological bias? Or, to put it another way, with an ideological bias other than the mainstream media’s bias toward big government and left-of-center causes? John Hood certainly thinks so, as he’s told us at least since 2008.