Why did the FCC want to interview journalists in the first place?

[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission publicly backed off part of a controversial research study in the face of mounting criticism that the research included interviewing local journalists about how they choose what to cover. The backlash to the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN), which is set for a test run this spring in Columbia (SC) included Republicans in Congress invoking the (defunct) Fairness Doctrine, and one of the FCC’s own commissioners accusing the agency of taking “a first step” toward “newsroom policing.” At the heart of criticism of the CIN is why the FCC-commissioned study would include interviews with local journalists about their “news philosophy.” However, Lewis Friedland, who directs the Center for Democracy and Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that no part of the CIN was ever meant to intrude on the prerogatives of local news managers. Friedland thinks dropping the journalist interviews is probably the right move -- but he says the questions were never intended to be a centerpiece for this study, and “they were never intended to be a form of critical review by the FCC of the output of the content of broadcasters.”


Why did the FCC want to interview journalists in the first place?