Claremont Independent Funded, Republished by National Conservative Groups

The Claremont Independent, a 5C news publication, bills itself as independent because it receives no funding from 5C student governments. However, the Independent accepts funding from Collegiate Network, a subsidiary of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which was founded to “counter the growing progressive ideology taking over American colleges,” according to its website.

Collegiate Network “has supported independent college newspapers, magazines and journals that serve to focus public awareness on the politicization of American [colleges and universities] … and the resulting decline of educational standards,” according to its website.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Collegiate Network’s parent organization, spent over $1,400,000 on programs for student journalism in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, as stated in a financial statement on its website. According to Claremont Independent Editor-in-Chief Steven Glick PO ’17, the Independent has accepted funding from the the Intercollegiate Studies Institute since before he joined in October 2014.

The Independent's articles are re-published by Campus Reform, a national organization dedicated to advancing conservative values and politics and grooming conservative politicians. According to its parent organization, the Leadership Institute, Campus Reform is a “one-stop resource, networking, and instruction center for conservative activists to take back their campuses from leftist domination.”

The Independent’s relationship with Campus Reform developed more recently. The Independent partnered with Campus Reform in 2016, according to Glick. Campus Reform republishes many of the Independent’s articles, earning them national attention. Some Independent articles have received over 15,000 shares from Campus Reform readers.

According to an article by Peter Schmidt, a senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Campus Reform… make[s] no effort to hide ideological slant. That’s apparent in [its] use of headlines and photos that portray colleges as beset by leftist tyranny and liberal excess.”

In addition to professional reporters, Campus Reform utilizes a network of ‘campus correspondents,’ including Glick and Independent staff writer Elliot Dordick PZ ’18. 

Campus correspondents “work hand-in-hand with Campus Reform's team of professional journalists” to report “liberal bias and abuse on college campuses,” according to Campus Reform’s website.

Being a campus correspondent “means that I have written articles for the [Claremont] Independent that Campus Reform has republished,” Glick wrote in an email to TSL.

However, Dordick wrote in a message to TSL that his work as a campus correspondent is separate from his work for the Independent.

According to Schmidt, Campus Reform revels in its ability to publish articles that provoke responses from colleges. Campus Reform carefully tracks and takes pride in its “‘victories,’ a term it applies to any situation in which a college changes a policy, fires someone, or otherwise responds to concerns raised by reporting on its site,” Schmidt wrote in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Leadership Institute, which runs Campus Reform, aims to “increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders,” according to its website. To do this, the Institute “identifies, recruits, trains, and places conservatives in government, politics, and the media.”

Glick wrote that accepting support from organizations like the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Leadership Institute does not influence the CI’s coverage because their goals are identical to the Independent's.

“That’s our mission too,” Glick wrote, in reference to the Leadership Institute's and Intercollegiate Studies Institute's missions of promoting conservative politics and values.

Claremont Independent Co-Editor-in-Chief Matthew Reade PO ’18 agreed.

Their mission “is our mission. We are, and always have been, a conservative paper,” he wrote in an email to TSL.

According to Reade, the Independent partnered with the Leadership Institute and Intercollegiate Studies Institute to advance mutual goals.

“We sought out these organizations because we want funding only from organizations and individuals that share our values,” Reade wrote.

Notably, the Independent's mission statement on its website does not mention promoting conservatism:

“The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of upholding truth and excellence at the Claremont Colleges,” the statement reads.

According to Claremont Independent Associate Editor Quincy Clarke PO ‘18, members are also invited to Leadership Institute and Intercollegiate Studies Institute events. Based on the Leadership Institute's website, its events are plainly intended to train future conservative politicians and activists.

While the Intercollegiate Studies Institute provides fewer publically available details about its events, Jane Coaston, a writer for MTV News and a former Editor-in-Chief of Michigan Review, a Collegiate Network-funded publication at the University of Michigan, wrote an article about her experience at a Collegiate Network editors’ conference she attended while in college.

“My senior year, while attending an editors’ conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, where we were given as much free alcohol as we could stand, I realized that we weren’t battling the forces of ignorance and apathy. We were battling liberals,” she wrote.

Reade wrote that Collegiate Network, Campus Reform, and their respective parent organizations do not have editorial power over the Independent’s reporting, nor have they tried to censor or influence the Independent.

“Our broad network of grassroots support — from alumni, parents, students and organizations that share our values — enables us to exercise complete editorial independence,” Reade wrote.

However, Glick wrote that the Independent is unlikely to adopt any “mainstream political ‘point of view or opinion’” with which Intercollegiate Studies Institute disagrees.

“I am not concerned that this will ever be an issue for us because … our mission closely aligns with all the organizations we work with,” Glick wrote.

According to Reade, funding from Intercollegiate Studies Institute represents a “minority” of the Independent’s budget.

“Most of our funding comes from grassroots donations from alumni, parents, and students from the various Claremont campuses, as well as from unaffiliated individuals who support our independent journalism,” Reade wrote.

Campus Reform and Collegiate Network did not respond to TSL’s requests for comment.

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