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AL.com’s Reckon: Left-wing ideology posing as journalism, with Southern-style branding and big-money liberal backing





|reckon|: A new media endeavor branded with a folksy, down-home name that promotes regurgitated left-of-center tripe. Intended to make an Alabama readership think a whiny progressive ideology represents Deep South values.

Back in October, AL(dot)com launched its social media-centric “space” for what Alabama Media Group vice president of content Michelle Holmes called “issues-driven journalism and discussion.”

Since the launch, Reckon has been what you would expect – an online “space” showcasing its liberal utopian vision for the state. There have also been some added extras for readers, like the invention of the word “Alabamafication” and new angles on those silly rednecks who inhabit regions beyond Birmingham NPR affiliate WBHM’s radio signal. The state may thank Kyle Whitmire and The Ostrich’s Matt Mitchell, respectively, for those contributions.

All this begs the question: Does AL(dot)com really need to offer Alabamians a portal into the universe of manufactured media elitism?

An outfit called the Jim Bettinger News Innovation Fund thinks so.

In an op-ed published in conjunction with Reckon’s launch, on October 4, Holmes credited “a generous grant from the Jim Bettinger News Innovation Fund” for making the project possible.

What is the Jim Bettinger Innovation Fund?

According to its website, it is a prize awarded by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University. The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships was named to honor Knight Foundation co-founder John S. Knight, which granted the program “major gift” in the 1980s.

Once you clear this word salad of endowments, foundations, fund and gifts, the obvious conclusion is the Alabama Media Group, the organization over Mobile’s Press-Register, The Huntsville Times and The Birmingham News — is accepting money from an outside group.

Taking money from outside groups is not illegal. It is, however, worth knowing that this organization has a left-of-center bias and it is pouring money into a project fueled by the company that publishes Alabama’s three major newspapers.

“It’s amazing how wide the tentacles of lefty journalism are,” Dan Gainor, the vice president for business and culture at the Reston, Va.-based Media Research Center, said to Yellowhammer News on Tuesday. “Not only is the Knight Foundation working with left-wing PolitiFact, but together they are aiding left-wing outlets in the states, like AL.com.”

Gainor offered a list of other efforts funded by Knight-affiliated organizations to bolster his claim.

“To give an idea how far left Knight is, it has given more than $14 million to five different left-wing outlets since 2009,” he said. “Those include: $5,952,500 to ProPublica; $1,000,000 to Sundance; $2,375,000 to the Center for Investigative Reporting; $300,000 to InsideClimate News; and $4,404,000 to the Center for Public Integrity.”

Behind its façade of trendy branding with a country twist, Reckon is just another lefty journalistic endeavor. Those are a dime a dozen on the Internet. However, this is different because it has the backing of three of Alabama’s major newspapers with combined centuries of serving as the state’s papers of record.

Might this enterprise cross the ironclad wall that supposedly exists between the hard news and editorializing parts of AL(dot)com? The November 18 editorial that appeared on the front pages of the Press-Register, The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times condemning Roy Moore and touting the candidacy of Doug Jones for the U.S. Senate special election could be a sign of things to come.

I reckon we better keep an eye on it.

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.