If you haven’t heard yet, the Obama Administration wants to know more about the news. According to one FCC Commissioner writing in the Wall Street Journal recently, the FCC is sticking its rather large proboscis into newsrooms across the country. Ajit Pai is uncomfortable with this new FCC initiative that seeks to do a study of “Critical Information Needs,” across the country by sending researchers to interview reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.
Sounds harmless, right? Not so much.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.
The FCC also wants to wade into office politics. One question for reporters is: “Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?” Follow-up questions ask for specifics about how editorial discretion is exercised, as well as the reasoning behind the decisions.
This is disturbing. A government agency with the power to hand out licenses that can essentially decide whether or not a news organization will continue operating has developed standards for “critical information” decided by… political appointees, one of whom happens to be Mignon Clyburn, daughter of Democrat Congressman James Clyburn.
A government agency is all of a sudden setting standards about what is “critical information” for American audiences. Screw what the public wants! The bureaucrats know better!
A government agency is spending taxpayer money to find out what media outlets should cover, based on criteria its bureaucrats think is appropriate for you – the American audience.
The FCC commissioned the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy to do a study defining what information is “critical” for citizens to have. The scholars decided that “critical information” is information that people need to “live safe and healthy lives” and to “have full access to educational, employment, and business opportunities,” among other things.
Who decides what you should watch? Apparently some “academics” using your money commissioned by your government. They know best, so just sit down and have a nice cup of shut the fuck up, plebe. They know better. You just need to pay your taxes and obey.
The FCC says it won’t force newsrooms and their employees to participate in this study, and that it’s completely optional. But how difficult is it to imagine this horde of nanny state nitwits denying a news outlet its license if it chose to exercise its option not to participate in this farce?
How difficult is it to see how the presence of an FCC bureaucrat “studying” these “critical” standards in newsrooms could be coercive and intimidating?
How difficult is it to see how FCC presence at MSNBC could ignore the obvious bias of those screeching shrews, while frowning meaningfully at the screeching shrews at Fox News and pointing out obvious political bias?
The use of taxpayer funds to “study” newsrooms around the country is bad enough. I don’t see where the Constitution grants the Executive Branch the authority to determine what constitutes “critical information” for American audiences to consume, nor is there any authority that allows the FCC to pressure newsrooms – overtly or implicitly – to air what politicians and their appointed pet bureaucrats want them to air.
The presence of the FCC in newsrooms – no matter what the claims of the bureaucrats about it being simple research – will be coercive and disruptive, as well as unnecessarily intrusive.
I know I am many times critical of the mainstream media. They cover the Duck Dynasty flap as if it were real news, while ignoring violence in the Ukraine. They feverishly follow Miley Cyrus and that degenerate Bieber kid, as if their presence in our collective consciousness was as necessary as the air we breathe. Most of the time, they air such unbelievable crap, that I turn off my TV in disgust. But that is my choice as an audience member, and I certainly don’t need some bureaucrat telling me what is essential watching for my well being, or dictating to the mediots what they should air to please me.
I’m perfectly capable of making decisions for myself, thank ya!
UPDATE: After a public outcry, it seems the FCC decided it would drop the study until a “new study design is final.”
“By law, the FCC must report to Congress every three years on the barriers that may prevent entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace, and pursue policies to eliminate those barriers. To fulfill that obligation in a meaningful way, the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities consulted with academic researchers in 2012 and selected a contractor to design a study which would inform the FCC’s report to Congress.
“However, in the course of FCC review and public comment, concerns were raised that some of the questions may not have been appropriate. Chairman Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required. …