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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

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

7 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.