The Federal Communications Commission’s proposed study of newsroom story selecting philosophies may be infringing upon First Amendment freedoms. So it’s a good thing commissioners backed off this ill-conceived idea.
The future of the Press is not looking truly free, especially when the Federal Communications Commission is trying to wiggle its way into newsrooms across the U.S.
Since the FCC’s proposal of the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs, the commission has come under much scrutiny.
This study would send FCC researchers into newsrooms to probe journalists, broadcasters and newsroom managers on their news and story-selecting philosophies.
According to a Washington Post article, which can be found at washingtonpost.com, some of the questions to be asked of journalists, reporters and broadcasters include: “Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your [viewers, listeners or readers] that was rejected by management?” and, “What was the reason given for the decision?”
In a statement made by FCC Spokesperson Shannon Gilson, the purpose of this study was to report barriers to Congress that “may prevent entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace, and pursue policies to eliminate those barriers.”
However, the FCC has wisely reconsidered this initiative, possibly because they have realized they were on the brink of infringing upon the constitutional right of the people to have a free press.
“The Commission has now recognized that no study by the federal government, now or in the future, should involve asking questions to media owners, news directors or reporters about their practices. This is an important victory for the First Amendment,” said Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner of the FCC, which is made up primarily of Democrats. “It would not have been possible without the American people making their voices heard. I will remain vigilant that any future initiatives not infringe on our constitutional freedoms.”
What does the FCC have to gain from vetting our watchdog?
My thought is, they are looking for more information they can use to control the media. But it’s not the government’s job to have a say in how people of this country are informed.
As an aspiring professional in the realm of public relations and multi-media communications, I agree with Pai, that we Americans should protect our constitutional freedoms with the power of words and our voice.
It is when we become silent that we have forfeited our freedom to those who will choose to make up their minds for us.