Originally published on May 12, 2014, by Alex Allen at DigitalJournal.com
A popular journalist and activist is trying to crowd-fund a new university for people interested in authentic, grassroots journalism and reporting.
Journalist Luke Rudkowski and several other members of the “We Are Change” organization are expanding their constantly growing platform by launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund an online university for grassroots journalism.
According to a video posted on the We Are Change YouTube channel, Change Media University will be a school that will teach authentic, muckraking journalism. The goal is to provide students with the tools they need to become new media journalists, either for We Are Change or on their own.
The university will apparently have several different phases, including an online course with eBooks, video series, and Skype consultations as well as a traditional classroom setting in New York City.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Luke Rudkowski himself about the Change Media University project. He was able to give me a little information on where the idea for the project originated.
“Last year, Andrew Emett began writing articles for our website,” Rudkowski said. “He envisioned a new generation of reporters who refused to bury articles or simple parrot press releases. While collaborating with the other staff writers, we decided to reach a mass audience by opening our won school for street journalism.”
Rudkowski also sympathizes with the financial struggles that many people face when it comes to college. “Many people can’t afford a journalism degree or don’t have the time to waste inside a classroom learning outdated methods,” he said. “At Change Media University, we will provide the necessary tools and ever-evolving information to prepare our students for the real world.”
In order to help out aspiring journalists who perhaps aren’t as financially privileged as others, Change Media University will be offering scholarships to anyone below the age of eighteen or below the poverty line. Of course, minors will need their parents’ permission but Luke pointed out that he doesn’t believe age should restrict anyone’s desire for knowledge.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of this upcoming University is the fact that it is being crowd-funded. I asked Luke why they chose Indiegogo as an outlet for launching the project.
“This [crowd-funding] gives people the opportunity to directly support our next generation of reporters without corporate or government interference,” he said. “Any by giving our donors full transparency, we will remain accountable to our audience.”
The goal for the Change Media University Indiegogo campaign is $150,000. Some of the perks being offered are just as interesting as the project itself. According to the project page, if you donate $20,000 you will get to “spend a night in jail with Luke.” The $20,000 perk reads as follows:
You and Luke will commit an act of nonviolent civil disobedience while serving a purpose. Ex. feeding the homeless, filming the cops, filling coin meters or whatever best suits you. We don’t get to pick the food or drinks inside the jail, but we will accommodate you through every step (unless Luke gets placed in solitary confinement). Our lawyers will advise you on what to do to make this as painless as possible.
Luke started We Are Change several years ago to “counter against the mainstream media’s duplicity and incompetence.” He has confronted and conducted interviews with everyone from Stephen Colbert to Henry Kissinger.