Government Minders in Newsrooms?

Government Minders in Americas newsrooms?  I think we call them MSNBC hosts.  According to Reporters without Borders, Press Freedom in the United States has already plummeted to 46th in the world.  Nowhere to go but down when Obama’s FCC is placing monitors to “Study” newsroom behavior.

The Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media.

Obama_minders

Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

As Commissioner Pai explains in the Wall Street Journal:

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.”

In fact, the FCC is now expanding the bounds of regulatory powers to include newspapers, which it has absolutely no authority over, in its new government monitoring program.

via Government Monitors in Newsrooms? 

Investors Business Daily had this to say:

First Amendment: The FCC has cooked up a plan to place “researchers” in U.S. newsrooms, supposedly to learn all about how editorial decisions are made. Any questions as to why the U.S. is falling in the free press rankings?

As if illegal seizures of Associated Press phone records and the shadowy tailing of the mother of a Fox News reporter weren’t menacing enough, the Obama administration is going out of its way to institute a new intrusive surveillance of the press, as if the press wasn’t supine enough.

Ajit Pai, a commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission, warned this week in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that a plan to dispatch researchers into radio, television and even newspaper newsrooms called the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” is still going forward, despite the grave danger it presented to the First Amendment.

Pai warned that under the rationale of increasing minority representation in newsrooms, the FCC, which has the power to issue or not issue broadcasting licenses, would dispatch its “researchers” to newsrooms across America to seek their “voluntary” compliance about how news stories are decided, as well as “wade into office politics” looking for angry reporters whose story ideas were rejected as evidence of a shutout of minority views.

Pai questioned if such a study could really be voluntary, given FCC’s conflict of interest (and, he might have added, the Obama record of going after political opponents).

The origin of the idea is a recrudescence of the Fairness Doctrine, inoperative since 1987 or so, to provide equal time to leftist points of view in broadcasting and other media that otherwise wouldn’t have a willing audience in a free market.

More – The FCC Plan To Police The Newsrooms

Corey Hutchins at the Columbia Journalism Review was talking about this several days ago in his article, ‘FCC revamps controversial study of TV newsrooms‘ Hutchins wonders (as do we) where and who in Columbia, SC will be taking part in this “study” as you may be aware, Politisite offices are located in Columbia.

As the Federal Communications Commission revamps a controversial study that has been slammed by critics as an inappropriate government intrusion into news media, broadcast newsrooms in its test market of Columbia, SC, still haven’t heard directly from the agency about its plan.

At issue is the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN), initiated last year under acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn. The study aims to gauge news consumers’ access to “critical information” in six local markets, along with any negative impact from “barriers to entry” facing news producers in those markets. The commission chose Columbia as the test market in November because of its medium size, racial and ethnic diversity, and the nearby journalism school at the University of South Carolina.

According to a a research design document dated April 2013, parts of the study would involve taking a census of newspaper, radio, broadcast, and web coverage in a given market, along with surveying and interviewing local residents about their “critical information needs.”

But it’s another part of the study that has prompted critics to invoke images of FCC officials parachuting into local newsrooms to influence coverage decisions. The design calls for the FCC to interview management and staff at broadcast outlets in order

to ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content, production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.

Suggested questions directed to station managers in the voluntary interviews include, “What is the news philosophy of the station?” and “How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?”

THE OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES ANNOUNCES MARKET FOR CRITICAL INFORMATION NEEDS RESEARCH FIELD TEST

 BO Docket No. 12-30

As part of its commitment to obtain useful data about the communications marketplace, the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO) today announced it has selected Columbia, South Carolina to field-test the Research Design for its Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (Research Design).  The site was chosen because it is a medium-sized market that is racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse.  Ease of travel for data collection, as well as having a nearby school of communications/journalism, also made it a model site.  The selection is the next step in OCBO’s process to ensure the Commission has a vetted research tool that can subsequently be used in markets nationwide.

The Commission is obligated  under § 257 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to review and report to Congress on: (1) regulations prescribed to eliminate market entry barriers in the provision and ownership of telecommunications services and information services, or in the provision of parts or services to providers of telecommunications services and information services by entrepreneurs and other small businesses; and (2) proposals to eliminate statutory barriers to market entry by those entities, consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

In order to assess whether government action is needed to ensure that the information needs of all Americans are being met, including women and minorities, it is necessary to understand how the public acquires critical information, how the media ecosystem operates to provide this information, and what barriers exist to participation.  OCBO expects to complete this next phase of its Critical Information Needs Research no later than July 2014.

For more information about the Research Design Model or the pilot study, contact Daniel Margolis, via e-mail at Daniel.Margolis@fcc.gov or phone at 202-418-1377.

-FCC-

We plan to be all over this story!

About the Author

Albert Milliron is the founder of Politisite. Milliron has been credentialed by most major news networks for Presidential debates and major Political Parties for political event coverage. Albert maintains relationships with the White House and State Department to provide direct reporting from the Administration’s Press team. Albert is the former Public Relations Chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party in Georgia. He is a former Delegate. Milliron is a veteran of the US Army Medical Department and worked for Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Psychiatry.

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