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FCC Study Queries ‘Philosophy’ Of News Rooms

From Fox News:

FCC official, others warn agency study could stifle freedom of the press

February 20, 2014

An Obama administration plan that would get researchers into newsrooms across the country is sparking concern among congressional Republicans and conservative groups.

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…

We have included an outline of the FCC’s questionnaire below, which was taken from the FCC’s documentation (a pdf file).

“Participation is voluntary—in theory,” Pai wrote. But “the FCC’s queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license.” 

Several months ago, the GOP-led House Committee on Energy and Commerce said the proposed field study showed “startling disregard” for the news media’s freedom and urged agency Commissioner Tom Wheeler to suspend the effort…

Here are the questions that will be asked according to the FCC’s documentation (a pdf file):

Station Owners, Managers or HR [Human Resources]
What is the news philosophy of the station?
• Who is your target audience?
How do you define critical information that the community needs?
• How do you ensure the community gets this critical information?
• How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?
• What are the demographics of the news management staff (HR)?
• What are the demographics of the on air staff (HR)?
• What are the demographics of the news production staff (HR)?

Corporate, General Managers, News Directors, Editors, etc
What is the news philosophy of the station?
• Who else in your market provides news?
• Who are your main competitors?
• How much news does your station (stations) air every day?
• Is the news produced in-house or is it provided by an outside source?
• Do you employ news people?
• How many reporters and editors do you employ?
• Do you have any reporters or editors assigned to topic “beats”? If so how many and what are the beats?
• Who decides which stories are covered?
• How much influence do reporters and anchors have in deciding which stories to cover?
• How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?
• How do you define critical information that the community needs?
• How do you ensure the community gets this critical information?

On-Air Staff (Reporters, Anchors)
• What is the news philosophy of the station?
• How much news does your station air every day?
• Who decides which stories are covered?
• How much influence do you have in deciding which stories to cover?
• 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?
o If so, can you give an example?
o What was the reason given for the decision?
o Why do you disagree?

According an article in Adweek last week, the FCC is backing off this study:

FCC Backs Off Study of Newsroom Editorial Practices

By Katy Bachman | February 12, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission is quietly changing course on a controversial study after parts of the methodology were roundly criticized by GOP lawmakers and commissioner Ajit Pai for encroaching into editorial decisions and content at TV stations.

The Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs, which aimed to help the commission figure out how to lower entry barriers for minorities in broadcasting, may now be on hold. At the very least, the controversial sections of the study will be revisited under new chairman Tom Wheeler and incorporated into a new draft…

But we haven’t seen any other confirmation that they are suspending this ‘study.’  But even if the FCC has been stopped – this time — it’s clear the Obama administration thought they could get away with doing this.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, February 20th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “FCC Study Queries ‘Philosophy’ Of News Rooms”

  1. captstubby

    FCC official to editors and station owners ;
    “let me tell you a story ,a long time ago,”

    ALEXANDER YULEVICH TIVEL in 1918 was working first in the military office of the Piatigorsk Soviet, then in Moscow in the propaganda department of the new Bolshevik government. By the end of the year he had joined the editorial staff of the Soviet government’s press agency, ROSTA, During the Russian Civil War (1918-11), he served as a correspondent for ROSTA and for several Soviet newspapers in Moscow, the Volga region, and Tashkent. His editing and language skills made him valuable to a new regime desperate for such talents.

    After the civil war, Alexander Tivel worked as an editor and writer in Moscow for the Communist International (Comintern), where he met and married Eva Lipman, In 1925 he moved to Leningrad to work in the foreign news department of Leningrad-skaia pravda, but in 1926 it was back to Moscow for editorial work in the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and in the CC’s Department of Culture and Propaganda. Although he had previously worked for the Communist press, he had never joined the party. But his new job in the apparatus of the Central Committee required him to be a member. His editorial experience and knowledge of languages made him a valued worker, and by special order of the CC Secretariat he was admitted directly to the party in December 1926, without the required period of candidate membership. During the next ten years, Tivel continued to work in Moscow party headquarters, eventually rising to the position of assistant chief of the International Information Bureau of the CC.

    On the surface, his record seemed exemplary. True, between 1930 and 1936 Tivel had received three party reprimands for minor infractions like misplacing telegrams or losing his party card, but it was not unusual for party members to have several such small blots on their records. Behind the scenes, however, top party leaders, ever more apprehensive, were scrutinizing the records of lower-ranking bureaucrats. Normal work relationships with political dissidents or with losers in political intrigues were increasingly examined and given sinister interpretations. Tivel had two such suspicious associations in his past. During his year in Leningrad back in 1925, he had worked with followers of the leftist oppositionist Grigory Zinoviev. Tivel had been in the wrong place at the wrong time: because Zinoviev was party boss of Leningrad at the time, his supporters had naturally controlled the newspaper where Tivel worked. And by 1936 Tivel’s immediate supervisor in the information bureau was the ex-Trotskyist Karl Radek, a well-known and bitingly sarcastic critic of Stalin in the 1920s.

    Suspicions reached new heights in the aftermath of the August 1936 show trial of Zinoviev and other former leftists. The dissidents had been sentenced to death, and in the wake of the trial those like Radek who had sided with the leftists came under intense scrutiny. At the end of August, Radek was arrested. Tivel was taken by the secret police (NKVD) at the same time. His wife and young son never saw him again.

    ALEXANDER YULEVICH TIVEL, enemy of the people, was executed by a firing squad of the Soviet secret police on a day in early March 1937,
    A journalist and editor, Tivel became one of three-quarters of a million citizens executed during 1937 and 1938, many without trial or other legal proceedings, all in the name of cleansing the Communist Party and the Soviet Union of various vaguely “counterrevolutionary” elements.

    Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939

    J. Arch Getty and Oleg V. Naumov

  2. Steve

    “A journalist and editor, Tivel became one of three-quarters of a million citizens executed during 1937 and 1938, many without trial or other legal proceedings, all in the name of cleansing the Communist Party and the Soviet Union of various vaguely “counterrevolutionary” elements.”

    “There are going to be fewer but better Russians.” — Ninotchka, 1939.

  3. canary

    The Republicans just need to skip traveling and pay ads daily adds with yahoo and liberal media and trashy shows so people recognize the candidate and his name.




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