Friday, February 21, 2014

Does Anyone Else Find This Troubling?

Research Design for the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs is a research project by the FCC.  A number of conservative websites and Fox News found this troubling because it involves putting researchers into not only radio and television station newsrooms (which are under FCC regulatory authority), but also in newspaper newsrooms.  Here's the introduction from the FCC's description of the research:
Social Solutions has been tasked with the development of a research design that can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations). 
What is especially disturbing is this:
General Population Survey: Utilizing a multi-level sampling method, this survey will measure community members’ actual and perceived critical information needs (n=4392).  
Wait a minute: actual and perceived needs?  You mean community members think that they need certain information, but someone else (the government) knows what information they actually need?  If this were limited to radio and television news, you could argue that FCC has regulatory authority on this; broadcast news is not subject to the same protections under the First Amendment as newspapers.  But this intrusion into newspaper newsrooms looks like it could have a chilling effect on freedom of the press.

Big Brother is coming.  I will be curious to see how many progressives decide that it is for a good cause, and play along.

UPDATE: Good news: February 21, 2014 Ars Technica reports tht the FCC has backed down.

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