Posted by: bkivey | 21 February 2014

Chicken Coops in the Newsroom

One of the bigger stories in the American media landscape was the revelation that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) had plans to perform a study of media news outlets designed to quantify editorial decision making and newsroom demographics. Some of the questions asked include:

• What is the news philosophy of the station?
• Who is your target audience?
• How do you define critical information that the community needs?
• How do you ensure the community gets this critical information?
• How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?
• What are the demographics of the news management staff?
• What are the demographics of the on air staff?
• What are the demographics of the news production staff?

And for editors and middle-managers:

• What is the news philosophy of the station?
• Who else in your market provides news?
• Who are your main competitors?
• How much news does your station (stations) air every day?
• Is the news produced in-house or is it provided by an outside source?
• Do you employ news people?
• How many reporters and editors do you employ?
• Do you have any reporters or editors assigned to topic “beats”? If so how many and what
are the beats?
• Who decides which stories are covered?
• How much influence do reporters and anchors have in deciding which stories to cover?
• How much does community input influence news coverage decisions?
• How do you define critical information that the community needs?
• How do you ensure the community gets this critical information?

In fairness, given the FCC’s founding principles, and current organizational mission statements, the study doesn’t seem out of line. The practical reality is that the interests expressed in the study are far outside the FCC’s regulatory mandate. The proposed study has raised a hue and cry in newsrooms across the land. The understandable and very real fear among media professionals is that the execution of the study will be the bridge over which political commissars cross into editorial offices.

It’s very easy to see the FCC identifying ‘problems’ with news coverage, and requiring media organizations to fund and host a government employee (or several) on their premises to ensure ‘fairness’. It would be nothing less than government control of the media.

Most of the media reaction amounts to “What are they thinking?!”: apparently under the impression that government involvement in a free press is unthinkable. This mindset displays a remarkable lack of self-awareness.

News outlets in this country, first with print, later radio and television, have been traditionally left-of-center and was evident even prior to the country’s founding. This leftward lean was markedly increased during the New Deal, accelerated again during Vietnam, and reached it’s culmination during the 2008 Presidential election, when most large media outlets gave up all pretense of objectivity and became the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.

The so-called Mainstream Medium (MSM) has continued to blindly shill for the current Administration, even after government agencies threatened to charge reporters with espionage for doing their job. Along with increasingly denying media access, the current White House has weaponized the IRS and EPA, blatantly lied to the country and the press, and generally operated outside the rule of law. Despite actions that would have gotten most Presidents impeached, the MSM has not held the Administration accountable in any meaningful way. Why wouldn’t the FCC think a compliant press would mind a little government intervention?

Outside the editorial offices, there is some uproar from the citizenry, but not as much as might have been expected. Canon is that a free, unbiased press is essential to a healthy democracy. These days, though, there’s a little problem. While the press may be relatively free (although less so than under other Administrations), it’s not unbiased. And as much as the media may present otherwise, Progressives are a minority in this country. I suspect that the relative lack of public outrage is a result of mass Schadenfreude: the media are getting a dose of the government control medicine they’ve been prescribing for the rest of us.

For decades the MSM has been vilifying and marginalizing the beliefs of the great majority of Americans. They’ve portrayed the minority as the majority, and portrayed the founding principles of this country and traditional American values as regressive and out-of-touch. Now that these particular chickens are flying home, it seems the media want the very people they’ve emotionally oppressed to come to their aid.

My opinion: go fuck yourselves.

A lot of journalists and editorial staff have an unfortunate habit of believing themselves members of the intellectual elite. They’re generally not, but consider themselves so, and members of the Cool Kids Club. Now that the Cool Kids they’ve very publicly supported are turning on them, they’re shocked, shocked that such a thing could happen.

I could maybe work up some support for the MSM on this issue if I thought they would learn from the experience, but history shows that they won’t. They seem incapable of equating support of the Democratic Party with the resulting oppression and control. Even though the FCC has tabled the current project, I rather suspect that if we do find ourselves with an effectively State-controlled media, the media will find a way to rationalize it.

One Song: Three Singers

I recently heard a song that I probably haven’t heard in 15 years: Son of a Preacher Man. It was part of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, and I consider it to be an almost perfect song: the story (much of it inferred), the call and response, the arrangement, the tonal variation, all make for a very nice piece of music.

I got curious and looked at how three different female vocalists treated the song.

Dusty Baker

The original recording artist in 1968. In the video, she has the helmet hair typical of the late ’60’s, but when she starts to sing, you know this woman has pipes. She owns the song.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha straight-up takes you to church. Her backing vocalists act as the choir, and she belts it out. She goes off script about halfway through, but it’s Aretha effing Franklin singing a song made for gospel.

Tina Turner

Oh, Miss Tina. You’ve been a bad, bad girl. Tina Turner’s version is smokin’ hot sexy, and she has a peerless command of the lower register. Her effective use of backing vocals and a popping horn arrangement don’t hurt at all.



  1. Once again the mainstream media does not disappoint, they were silent on this topic, it took the conservative press to make enough noise to temporarily put a stop to this. The progressive left has this infatuation with totalitarian governance, why I do not understand, because once you have such a government, it seems as though any creativity you may have once shown will be stifled. To me George Orwell is a hero, I first read 1984 in junior high, at the time it seemed as though this was just a work of fiction, little did I know of Eric Arthur Blair’s upbringing or the path that America would follow that I would be watching this authors work unfold. When I look at the city of Detroit, I want to cry, I am reminded of another great book by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, also fiction. the foresight these two authors show in their written works is almost prophetic, We are in big trouble!

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