Ray Suarez

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Thoughts on the Gates Foundation paying media to cover global health and development | 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has gotten a lot of attention lately for funding media organizations.

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An article in the current Columbia Journalism Review called “How Ray Suarez Really Caught the Global Health Bug” by local writer Robert Fortner, formerly of Seattle’s Crosscut, is perhaps the most extensive and pointed.

I had to laugh at the article’s title (based on the title of a talk given by Suarez in Seattle a while ago). Fortner’s answer is Suarez and PBS Newshour got the bug after they received $3.6 million from Gates to cover global health issues.

Fortner, who wrote about the Gates Foundation for Crosscut, said he quit in 2009 because of his unease with publisher David Brewster accepting funds from the Gates Foundation. Brewster told me he had not been aware that this was the reason Fortner left.

The latest Gates media partnership was what the New York Times called “an unusual financial agreement” between ABC News and the world’s biggest philanthropy aimed at promoting greater coverage of global health issues. Continue reading