Do your local media outlets represent the stories, issues and people of your community?
The authors behind a pilot study commissioned by the Federal Communications Commission were gearing up to answer this important question.
The study’s main objective? To investigate whether whether local news outlets were meeting the information needs of their communities, particularly regarding women and people of color. Titled “Critical Information Needs” (CIN), the study was scheduled to conduct field test in “ethnically diverse” Columbia, S.C., Colorlines.com reported.
But after being met with a wave of alleged hate mail, death threats and growing backlash from a mix of conservative radio journalists, mainstream columnists, an FCC comissioner and Republicans, the inquiry was silently put to rest.
“I feel like all the outrage was theater,” Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the advocacy group, Free Press, told Colorlines.com.
So, did the FCC have any grounds to seek this data in the first place?
Well, according to journalist Carla Murphy, a 2012 liteature review commissioned by the FCC and co-authored by the now-defunct study’s lead researcher Lewis Friedland uncovered the following:
- The FCC’s concept of using media ownership as a key measure of whether “participation” and “diversity” are actually happening in media is outdated in the Internet era.
- There is “a severe shortage of research,” directly addressing how critical (job opportunities) and emergency (what to do and where to go during a hurricane) information needs are being met for “minority communities, non-English speakers, the disabled and those of lower income.
One of the major issues that the CIN study presented to critics was the inquiry’s intended “census”‘ of local TV, radio and newspaper newsrooms to determine how diverse staffs were and how newsrooms chose what stories and topics to cover.
Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) explained his reservations to Colorlines.com.
“I don’t understand how talking to newsroom managers about their staff relates to the FCC’s mandate around underserved communities and minority broadcast ownership,” Cavender said. “What is defined as an ‘underserved community’ would be my first question.”
“In broad-based terms, making sure that all communities within a given market are being served is a worthy topic and the RTDNA doesn’t have a problem with that in theory,” he added.
“But again, we have a problem with incursion into the news process. Those judgments are better made by news managers, not government bureaucrats.”
As far as being accountable for its own staff makeup, Cavender revealed that the Radio Television Digital News Association does conduct a count of male and female newsroom staff, but most media outlets, itself included, would likely refuse to view any extensive internal research to be “proprietary” information.
“No station will share what they find out about themselves publicly because if folks across the street get ahold of that, it’s not a good thing,” he said.
It seems like what the FCC considered an academic process involving scientific and rigorous collection of data, the study’s opponents considered government overreach.
Should local news outlets be investigated for a lack of diversity? Or is that the responsibility of the news outlets themselves?
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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