Google and Facebook have been voraciously eating the lunch of traditional publishers – and by extension, of journalists in their employ – for more than a decade now.
These tech platforms did it first by capturing digital readers and their clicks, and then, advertisers – thanks to squeezing every last drop of monetizable personal data from those readers, in often ethically and legally dubious ways.
The result has been the forging of a fearsome digital “ad duopoly” that persists to this very day.
Therefore, the core of the losing battle publishers fight on the web today is this near-monopolized ad market that will simply not let them earn a living.
The real problem is the entrenched and closed-off monetizing model – not these publishers' creative or professional inability to come up with compelling digital content.
So when Google appears to be addressing criticism that's actually stemming from the “ad duopoly” stranglehold it imposes on the market – the answer is to never address the real problem, and instead deflect to a minor one – namely, expertise (or lack thereof) in “digital-first local news” creation, as Axios puts it.
But even if this is just one of Google's PR-stunts designed to make the behemoth look better in the ongoing feud with publishers – you'd think at least this stunt would go some ways towards appearing ideologically unbiased, politically neutral… credible?
Instead, Google picked The Young Turks (TYT) – one of the largest progressive digital publishers on YouTube and reportedly gave them something in the range of half a million dollars.
To do what?
Well, this particular highly polarizing left-wing content producing outfit is to do none other than “teach journalists” – thanks to the online course sponsored by Google money – how to make “digital-first local news.”
The project is called “TYT Academy.”
Could lesson number one be this: how to align yourself ideologically/politically with a giant platform that controls most of the ad money and market share, so the giant's algorithms consistently surface your content in recommendations, on top of search pages, etc. – thus ensuring your exposure and financial longevity?
No, that's not how it's framed at all.
Instead, The Young Turks will be teaching “journalism tactics and responsibilities” and then, “best practices for online video production across many online platforms, not just YouTube.”
And if you're worried about TYT YouTube channel's journalism credentials – well, the Axios article doesn't tackle that problem at all.
And – if you're worried about TYT's ideological bias – TYTs “chief business officer and the creator of TYT Academy” promises the channel is “not interested in cranking out journalists who share our political viewpoint whatsoever.”