From USA Today
One of the messy things about a free press is that you might not always like what it’s reporting.
If you’re a liberal, Fox News drives you crazy. If you’re a conservative, you’re not a big fan of MSNBC. If you’re an NPR buff, you’re appalled when spasms of Biebermania occur elsewhere.
OK, so you get upset. Or change the channel. Or click on something else. But the fact that you aren’t going to love everything you encounter goes with the territory.
Which brings us to the Federal Communications Commission and its misguided plan to stick its unwelcome nose into the newsrooms of America and explore how journalists are doing their jobs.
The FCC decided in its infinite wisdom that it would be a good idea to launch something called a Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs. Said study would investigate, among other things, “the process by which stories are selected,” how news outlets are fulfilling “critical information needs” and if there is “perceived station bias.” Journalists would be asked, among other things, if they ever had story ideas squashed by management. The project was set to launch with a pilot project in Columbia, S.C., in the spring.
How anyone even came up with this idea, let alone how it was put into motion, is hard to fathom. Not to go all Tea Party on you, but those questions are none of the government’s business. The last thing we need is journalism cops flooding into newsrooms to check up on how the sausage is being made. That’s particularly true when the journalism cops are dispatched by the outfit that grants licenses to television and radio stations.
Fortunately, the FCC, under heavy fire — particularly in the conservative media and on Capitol Hill — for this boneheaded, intrusive initiative, is now in full retreat mode. On Friday, FCC spokeswoman Shannon Gilson ran up the white flag.