February 20, 2014

"Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game."

Administration to investigate news rooms and how they select news stories

The purpose of the proposed Federal Communications Commission study is to “identify and understand the critical information needs of the American public, with special emphasis on vulnerable-disadvantaged populations,” according to the agency.
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“The FCC seems unable to keep its hands off the news media for any extended period of time,” Jeffrey Eisenach, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told FoxNews.com.  “It’s the same generic concern of needing a news nanny to make sure we’re all well informed,” he added. “The same people who are concerned about the NSA spying on Americans ought to be concerned about this.”

The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom by Ajit Pai.  Why is the agency studying 'perceived station bias' and asking about coverage choices?

News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.

But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.  A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

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."
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Participation in the Critical Information Needs study is voluntary—in theory. Unlike the opinion surveys that Americans see on a daily basis and either answer or not, as they wish, the FCC's queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.

Mark Steyn, All the News That Fits the Government Guidelines

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Government of the United States is increasingly corrupt. Its revenue agency is corrupt and its justice department is corrupt, so it's hardly surprising, in a hyper-regulatory regime where bureaucrats write their own rules and enforce them with their personal SWAT teams, that more peripheral government bodies find the temptation too much to resist. On Fox News today, Shannon Bream has been reporting on the Federal Communications Commission's plans to put government monitors in TV and radio newsrooms to assess their coverage of eight "critical information needs", and "underserved populations".
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I was interested to see what the eight "critical information needs" - or CINs, in the regulatory jargon - actually are. You can find them listed in this report, from something called "Social Solutions International" of Silver Spring, Maryland:
Social Solutions has been tasked with the development of a research design that can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations).
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The state has no business determining which news stories have priorities over others, and certainly no business sending monitors into newsrooms to ensure compliance - because the essence of a functioning press is not what the state decrees the citizen has a "critical need" to know but what it doesn't think he needs to know. Why should "Social Solutions International" get to determine "the critical information needs of the American public"? And why should the government get to enforce them?…..

A quote from Salman Rushdie: "Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game." Because without free speech you can never be quite sure whether the ball game is even real
Posted by Jill Fallon at February 20, 2014 11:39 AM | Permalink