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'The Next Rush Limbaugh': Conservatives Pumping Right-Wing Young People into Media Jobs

This year's Conservative Political Action Conference offered such panels as "Freelance Writing for Freedom" and "Want to be the Next Rush Limbaugh?"

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When asked where students from WJI end up, Case noted that a small number actually enter the field of mainstream journalism. Of the program’s roughly 600 alums, Case estimates that 250 have entered into news journalism of some kind—often as news anchors in places like Tulsa. Case proudly highlighted one alumna who is a managing editor at a small-town paper in Wyoming. But sticking with journalism isn’t common, Case says, particularly with female alums.

“The girls end up pregnant and married. So we spend a gazillion dollars educating the girls. And the girls are often our very best writers. They’re the best students, the hardest workers. The most serious. They’re the ones that … outwork the guys. But, God love ‘em, they get married, and they have children, and that takes them out of the workforce,” Case said.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily frowned upon. “Because we are purposefully Christian, those that aren’t in the business … are married and having children,” Case said. “We encourage that. We think that’s great. Big families are great.”

But while the World Journalism Institute may not have pushed many students into the forefront of national journalism, other programs have. The National Journalism Center, a program of the conservative political youth group Young America's Foundation, is designed to create a pipeline for students to get into journalism.

The program is advertised to a conservative audience and is affiliated with an explicitly conservative group, but the program advertises itself as emphasizing the “values of accuracy, balance and objectivity.” A student at CPAC working the National Journalism Center’s booth said he was currently interning at the American Spectator.

The National Journalism Center has met some success, with notable alumni including Malcolm Gladwell and Ann Coulter. The program’s brochure boasts that “participants have worked at more than 50 respected print and broadcast organizations, including ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, C-SPAN, Newsweek, National Review, The American Spectator, Time, Human Events, Roll Call, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.”

If accepted to the program, students attend free of charge, even receiving a $1,000 monthly stipend during the internship.

And these two programs aren’t the only two that offer well-financed journalism internship programs from conservative organizations; the Institute for Humane Studies sponsors an eight-week summer internship program that offers a $3,200 stipend and mentorship. The Heritage Foundation has also offered a " Computer-Assisted Research and Reporting” training at the National Press Club.

Conservative publications enter into the ever-morphing field of journalism at unprecedented rates; from TownHall, the Daily Caller and Fox News, conservative journalism is becoming a crowded field. Conservatives are hoping to fill the ranks of both of these conservative publications and push conservatives into more mainstream news outlets. Arming young conservatives with stipends, housing and networking might just be the way they’ll do it. 

Kay Steiger is an associate editor at Campus Progress.

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