Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
After criticism over “viewpoint diversity,” NPR adds new layers of editorial oversight
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
April 8, 2024, 10:53 a.m.

The conspiracy-loving Epoch Times is thinking about opening…a journalism school?

It would, um, “champion the same values of ‘truth and traditional’ as The Epoch Times” and, er, “nurture in the next generation of media professionals,” ahem, “the highest standards of personal integrity, fairness, and truth-seeking.”

The admissions brochure writes itself. “Learn journalism that’s ‘fueled by a right-wing slant and conspiracy theories’!” “Take classes from ‘a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation’!” “Gain the skills to generate a ‘singular mix of straight news, religious belief, conspiracy peddling, Sinophobia, science denialism, legitimate grievance, and political expediency’!” “Prepare for a career in ‘a global propaganda machine, similar to Russia’s Sputnik or RT, that pushes a mix of alternative facts and conspiracy theories that has won it far-right acolytes around the world’!”

That’s right: The Epoch Times — the Trump-loving, communist-hating, conspiracy-devoted newspaper connected to the Chinese Falun Gong movement — is thinking about starting a journalism school.

“The Epoch Times is considering supporting the establishment of a new School of Journalism that would champion the same values of ‘truth and traditional’ as The Epoch Times,” read an email the paper sent out to newsletter subscribers this morning. “The college’s mission would be to nurture in the next generation of media professionals the highest standards of personal integrity, fairness, and truth-seeking.”

The email links to an online survey meant to gauge interest in the potential school. It asks about potential four-year (a BA in journalism, with print/web and broadcast tracks; a BS in journalism for TV/video production; a BS in digital media marketing) and two-year (associate’s degrees in journalism, TV/video production, and digital media marketing) programs, as well as non-degree certificate programs.

The potential school would be “in New York State, in a scenic town of about 30,000 people, just 1.5-hours from New York City, with easy access to NYC by train or bus.” Of note, the global headquarters of the Falun Gong movement — which some label a cult — is a place named Dragon Springs in Deerpark, New York, which Google Maps tells me is an hour and 26 minutes from the top of the Bronx.

The newspaper seems to think of the potential school as a training ground for future Epoch Times staffers, saying that it and sibling network NTD Television “would be excited to offer jobs and internships to high caliber students.”

Anyone can start a journalism school; the challenge would be in getting it accredited. For journalism programs, the accrediting body is ACEJMC (the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications), though that accreditation is voluntary, and not all j-schools seek it. The more important issue would be general accreditation as an institution, which is the sort of thing that lets students’ credits be counted by other institutions (including the federal government, for financial aid purposes) and broadly differentiates you from a diploma mill. Most New York colleges you’ve heard of are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, although there are other accreditors it could seek out. Needless to say, a four-year college that only offered journalism classes could have a hard time convincing accreditors it’s a proper vessel for higher education.

As for why learning reporting at a notional Epoch U. might be a bad idea…well, just read any of the many pieces about itsjournalism” and come to your own conclusions. (Or hey, maybe it’s just a Wave of Hit Pieces Revealing Why the Establishment Is Terrified of This Defiant Newspaper.)

I’ve reached out to the Epoch Times for comment; I’ll update here if they respond. Here’s the email (subject line: “SURVEY: A New Journalism School?”).

Photo of Epoch Times newspaper boxes in 2016 by Matt Popovich.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email (joshua_benton@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     April 8, 2024, 10:53 a.m.
Show tags
 
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
After criticism over “viewpoint diversity,” NPR adds new layers of editorial oversight
“We will all have to adjust to a new workflow. If it is a bottleneck, it will be a failure.”
“Impossible to approach the reporting the way I normally would”: How Rachel Aviv wrote that New Yorker story on Lucy Letby
“So much of the media coverage — and the trial itself — started at the point at which we’ve determined that [Lucy] Letby is an evil murderer; all her texts, notes, and movements are then viewed through that lens.”
Increasingly stress-inducing subject lines helped The Intercept surpass its fundraising goal
“We feel like we really owe it to our readers to be honest about the stakes and to let them know that we truly cannot do this work without them.”