An FCC commissioner Ajit Pai wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, warning about a plan that his agency is rolling out that would put monitors in the nation’s newsrooms. News managers and staffers would be interviewed by agency officials about the content that they choose to report on and how they choose certain stories. According to Pai, here are some of the questions that will be asked of these managers and staffers:
- What is the news philosophy of the station?
- How do you define critical information that the community needs?
- Who decides which stories are covered?
- Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers (viewers, listeners, readers) that was rejected by management?
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.
However, one agency commissioner, Ajit Pai, said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece Wednesday that the May 2013 proposal would allow researchers to “grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.”
He also said he feared the study might stifle the freedom of the press.
“The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch,” wrote Pai, appointed to the FCC’s five-member commission in May 2012 by President Obama. “But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”
We all know that news media are all biased, no matter which network. But anyone who thinks that having government monitors “make sure” that media networks are “telling the whole story” is going to make things better is fooling himself. All this will do is force media networks to become the White House’s mouthpiece (even more than they are now). All information will be filtered by the White House so that the American audience will only hear what they’re supposed to hear.
Oh, and this FCC study is “voluntary.” But if a newsroom refuses to answer any of the questions, they could lose their license.