Originally published: May 6, 2012
Last updated: May 6, 2012 - 12:00pm
[Commentary] A gold mine of data will soon be available to help make our political system more transparent, thanks to the Federal Communication Commission. But this gold will be useless unless it’s extracted, shaped, and polished.
Television stations could help their own reporters do their jobs better, prove to the community (and policymakers) that they zealously try to better inform the public by moving to the forefront of improving rather than resisting transparency. For instance, broadcasters in the smaller markets could voluntarily put their files online right away. Why doesn’t the National Association of Broadcasters call on its members to voluntarily put this information online? Why doesn’t the Radio and TV Digital News Directors—which, inexplicably, opposed the FCC’s political transparency rule—take the lead in requesting, or demanding, that their own stations take this important step? Local TV newsrooms forever complain when they’re not taken as seriously as newspaper reporters. In many cases the irritation is justified but in the first round of this fight, it was notable that the TV news directors sided with TV station owners, not with other journalists, and not or in the interests of their viewers. Here’s a chance for them to show that they genuinely care about viewers being better informed. The FCC rule is a hugely important step. But its ultimate significance will depend greatly on how reporters, citizens, and the industry follow up.
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