US government's SNEAKY Play with Media Funds

Diving into the National Science Foundation's $5 million grant, the government appears as a seductive woman, her allure masking a hidden reptilian nature.

September 18, 2023

In a world where the integrity of journalism is paramount, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) recent grant to the Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics (IDDP) at George Washington University raises eyebrows. While the grant purports to support journalists facing online harassment, the underlying implications are deeply concerning.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an "independent" federal agency created by Congress in 1950. It was established with the primary goal of promoting the progress of science. It achieves this by advancing national health, prosperity, and welfare, as well as securing the national defense. With its commitment to funding research across various scientific disciplines, the NSF plays a pivotal role in fostering innovation and maintaining the United States' global leadership in scientific endeavors.

Recently, the NSF made headlines by awarding a substantial $5 million grant to develop a "system of care" tailored for journalists. At first glance, this initiative appears to be a commendable endeavor, designed to provide a combination of technical and social support to journalists who are grappling with the menace of online harassment. Such a move by the NSF seems to align with its broader mission of advancing public welfare.

However, a deeper examination reveals concerns.

Why does a government agency feel the need to violate the first amendment in the realm of journalism, a field that thrives on independence and freedom from external influences? The grant's purpose, to develop a rapid response system for journalists, seems more like a mechanism to control narratives than a genuine effort to support free speech. The very essence of journalism is to question, challenge, and hold power to account. By tethering journalists to government funding, are we not jeopardizing this sacred duty?

One of the more eyebrow-raising aspects of the grant is its collaboration with software developers. While the IDDP team at George Washington University touts the benefits of technological solutions to combat online harassment, one must question the efficacy and potential biases of such a platform. Will it truly serve as an unbiased tool for journalists, or could it be manipulated to serve particular interests?

Furthermore, the grant emphasizes the role of "peer advocacy." Journalists, once they report abuse on this platform, will supposedly connect with a peer advocate equipped with tools and resources to assist them. This could range from joining a peer community discussion group to discussing the issue with the journalist's family and friends. But who selects these advocates? And how can we ensure that they don't have their own biases or agendas?

The project's ambition doesn't stop at journalists. The team has grand plans to extend this "system of care" to include academics, researchers, public health officials, and other experts in the future.

The use of the funds further amplifies these concerns. The development of a platform where journalists can report "abuse" and access various support mechanisms sounds eerily like a surveillance tool. In an era where freedom of speech is under constant threat, such platforms can easily be weaponized to suppress dissenting voices.

Moreover, the involvement of the IDDP, led by Rebekah Tromble, in this project is another red flag. While the institute may have noble intentions, its collaboration with a government agency on a project of this nature is a cold water to the face reminder of the dangers of intertwining journalism with external interests.

The backdrop of this grant is the increasing online harassment faced by journalists, especially women. While online harassment is a genuine concern, the solution should not come at the cost of journalistic independence. The NSF's initiative, under the guise of support, could very well be a trojan horse, introducing government influence into the sacred realm of journalism.

While the NSF's grant might be presented with a facade of benevolence, its implications for the world of journalism are deeply troubling. It's imperative to remain vigilant and question the true intentions behind such initiatives. The sanctity of journalism and the freedom of speech it upholds must always be protected from potential encroachments, no matter how well-intentioned they might appear.


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