Friday, February 21, 2014
FCC Backs-Off On Newsroom Survey Plans
FCC spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said Chairman Tom Wheeler agreed with critics that some of the study's proposed questions for reporters and news directors "overstepped the bounds of what is required."
The agency announced that a proposed pilot study in South Carolina will now be shelved, at least until a "new study design" is finalized. But the agency made clear that this and any future studies will not involve interviews with "media owners, news directors or reporters."
Commissioner Ajit Pai, who was one of the staunchest critics of the proposal, heralded the decision Friday as an acknowledgement that government-backed researchers would not be dispatched into newsrooms, as feared.
Amid the controversy, Wheeler had already told lawmakers the commission had "no intention" of regulating reporters' speech. He also directed that the controversial questions be removed from the survey entirely.
The initial proposal for the study called for looking into issues like "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations." The proposed questions for the interviews with members of the media raised alarm bells, including questions about "news philosophy" and how much community input goes into story selection and whether reporters ever had "a story with critical information" rejected by management.
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Posted 4:25:00 PM