Feb 11, 2020 - Economy & Business

Scoop: YouTube to fund launch of The Young Turks local news academy

The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur
The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Young Turks (TYT), one of the largest progressive digital publishers on YouTube, is receiving funding from Google-owned YouTube to launch an online course called TYT Academy that focuses on the creation of digital-first local news. Sources say the investment is in the mid-six-figures range.

Why it matters: The investment is part of YouTube's $25 million commitment to news efforts, which is part of the $300 million Google News Initiative that was announced in 2018.

  • As one of YouTube's most successful publishers with 4.6 million for its main account and millions of followers across its affiliated channels, TYT is a logical fit for this type of investment.

The new class features a two-track video series, with each containing eight videos. Users will take short quizzes along the way, and must pass a final exam after completing each track to earn a TYT Academy certificate.

  • First track: Journalism tactics and responsibilities.
  • Second track: Best practices for online video production across many online platforms, not just YouTube.

For now, the course is in a trial period. TYT plans to expand the program more broadly after first testing it with 10-15 people.

  • The goal of the class is to get everyday people engaged in digital media so that they can help report on their local communities.

Yes, but: While TYT takes a strong progressive position as an outlet, Steven Oh, TYT’s Chief Business Officer and the creator of TYT Academy, told Axios on a phone call that TYT is "not interested in cranking out journalists who share our political viewpoint whatsoever."

The big picture: Facebook has also invested in online news courses from publishers. In December, Axios reported that Facebook would be funding an online deepfakes course for newsrooms by Reuters.

Our thought bubble: The videos for this course, which have been online for about two months, appear to be nonpartisan, but it's notable that YouTube is investing in a course from TYT, which has a progressive bent.

  • Facebook has said that it will include partisan publishers like Breitbart in its news tab, but says it won't necessarily pay Breitbart. The company hasn't released a list of all of the publishers who are being paid.

Go deeper: Young Turks' founder Cenk Uygur running to fill ex-Rep. Katie Hill's seat

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