June 16, 2015; Huffington Post
What is to be done when the media does not do a thorough job of covering a major social issue? Setting up a single-issue site can help feed better coverage all across the country. Modeled after The Marshall Project and InsideClimate News, a new single-issue nonprofit journalism site bankrolled by a billionaire is being launched this week in the form of The Trace. The site, focused on chronicling gun violence, has the backing of Michael Bloomberg, who has already devoted $50 million to Everytown for Gun Safety, a national anti-gun violence effort. John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown, said that The Trace grew out of their frustrations with the enormous media-feeding capacity of the National Rifle Association. He believes that the NRA needs to be countered with serious, research-based journalism on the topic.
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Tapped to lead the journalism effort as editorial director is James Burnett, who left the New Republic back in Janary. The outlet is not intended to have a particular point of view regarding gun regulation or laws, but it is intended to challenge the NRA’s dominance in the gun debate while appealing to people across a spectrum of opinions.
When the Albany-based site Capital first reported on the startup last month, critics pounced. The NRA has described the effort as a “propaganda outfit,” part of a “disinformation campaign,” and a monument to “Bloomberg’s ego-driven zeal to control” the rights of Americans.
But, whether or not this particular effort works, the idea of establishing specialized nonprofit news sites has clearly caught on.—Ruth McCambridge