This story begins here, but it's not about us at WTOC. It's about all of us.
Newsrooms are no different than many workplaces. They're hectic, noisy, demanding and we don't like people snooping around uninvited.
And that's exactly what the Federal Communications Commission is trying to do - in the name of research, of course - with a study on how news organizations determine content.
"This is a very chilling effort on the part of the FCC,'' said WTOC general manager Bill Cathcart. "It's totally unwelcome and totally necessary. From the standpoint of the government getting into newsrooms and trying to dictate what and who is covered is unconstitutional.''
The government agency claims it is only trying to get a better understanding of how stories are selected and any perceived station bias.
But it's what they could do with that information that is troubling and should be frightening.
You don't do research unless you plan to use it. And how could the FCC use the information it gathers? Well, they do issue, review and can revoke the licenses of TV stations. You decide how they might use their research.
"The problem is,'' said Cathcart, "if this is not stopped, it will simply continue until big government basically controls thought, what's covered, controls what we learn and what we hear about . And that will basically diminish the impact of the news media.''
What happens here never stays here. But it has to be of here, has to happen organically, originally and without interference. Except the FCC is now trying to interfere.
Media outlets across the country have nothing to hide, but everything to protect. Mostly the Constitutional right to freedom of the press that separates us from countries with government-monitored news.