It seems like every time I turn around the First Amendment is under fire again. This time is no different. Hell, I dig for my news and I didn’t even know that this one was out there until just this morning. But there it is and guess what, coming this spring, it poses another threat to the First Amendment. Reporters without Borders recently slipped the United States 13 places to 46th in the world for Press Freedom. This from an organization that ranked the United States 20th in 2009…How far we’ve fallen in the five short years under this administration, and we haven’t even begun this newest little intrusion.
It seems the administration wants to look into the average newsroom to see how the average news organization selects its news stories. Seemingly innocuous enough at first glance but take a look deeper into the plan. This plan is being brought to you by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the organization that has jurisdiction over the broadcast industry meaning that while they wouldn’t be able to monitor print or cable news any broadcast station or radio network would be subject to their surveillance, but yet print news is included in their study. This seems to be more of a watchdog tactic because participation in the study is being touted as voluntary especially for print news, but when you figure that a broadcast station needs a FCC license to be on the air and that license needs to be renewed every eight years you definitely see where the pressure to accept participation in this study could come from. Of course print news can tell them where to stick it, but then again, will they?
The FCC decided to commission this study,”Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN),” and in their own release they cited the need to, “collect data to inform: the access (or potential barriers) to CINs as identified by the FCC; the media that makes up media ecologies (i.e., what media is actually included in that ecology; ownership of that market; what specific type of content dominates those media ecologies; what is the flow of information within the ecology, etc); the use of and interaction between media that makes media ecologies (i.e., how do different layers of the ecology interact to provide for CINs; how do individuals of diverse neighborhoods/communities differ in terms of access to CINs); validate data collection tools/templates and protocols; demonstrate high internal validity and reliability of measured constructs.”(emphasis in bold my additions)
In other words the FCC wants to see what these news organizations are doing and how they are doing it so that the FCC can further regulate the industry they are over. Perhaps some tweaking here and there is their thoughts. Here is the first and most vital set of questions. What defines a critical information need? Who decides what constitutes any of those three words? and is this a one size fits all approach or are these tailored needs? I set before you that when someone dictates or establishes a set of Critical Information Needs that regulate how we address news we start down a path where what gets reported becomes more narrowly defined by the people at the top to the average citizen.
Imagine a world where a traffic jam was considered a CIN in Nebraska, but a Supreme Court decision about a case in Montana was only deemed a CIN for Montana and maybe Wyoming and Idaho. Picking and choosing what news reaches who defeats the purpose of free speech, instead it serves as a repression of that very amendment.
Funnily enough, there was another country about 75 years ago that repressed freedom of speech in order to deliver what I would call critical information needs to its people. The person in charge of delivering that information was Joseph Goebbels and the country was Nazi Germany…What did Goebbels say about critical information, well he said,
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Here in America luckily we are in the twenty-first century and have access to not only broadcast news but cable, internet, blogs, etc. In other words, there is no dearth of sources providing us differing viewpoints on various items deemed news. This is good, diversity in news leads to discussion as opposed to mere acceptance of the news that is delivered to us.
We should, as citizens, be asking pointed questions to the FCC and why they think they need to regulate the news delivered to the people. Here is how to contact them via E-mail:
Chairman Julius Genachowski: Julius.Genachowski@fcc.gov
Commissioner Michael J. Copps: Michael.Copps@fcc.gov
Commissioner Robert McDowell: Robert.McDowell@fcc.gov
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov
Let them know We The People oppose their intrusion into our First Amendment with their thinly veiled attempt at media control with the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs