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of using media ownership as a key measure of whether “participation” and “diversity” are actually happening in media is outdated in the Internet era.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?
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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