File photo of U.S. President Obama speaking about continuing government shutdown during White House news conference in WashingtonFreedom of the press may soon be a thing of the past in America. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is launching a pilot program which involves government monitoring of what goes on in newsrooms around the nation. If the apparent attempt to control and intimidate journalists is successful, 2014 will be forever known as the year the First Amendment died. The FCC controls the broadcasting licenses of all television and radio media outlets.

The FCC is also now attempting to expand its regulatory bounds to include newspapers, according to ACLJ. Print media does not broadcast and has never in the history of the United States been overseen in any way by the Federal Communications Commission – until now. Newspapers may also be included in the new government monitoring of news program.

media-outletsThe stated purpose of the government news monitoring program is to unearth information from radio, newspaper, and television broadcasters about the “process by which stories are selected and how often stations cover critical information needs,” according to the FCC. The federal government agency will also be reviewing “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved” populations.

The FCC has also reportedly already selected eight specific categories of “critical information” that the governmental entity believes local news organizations should cover. Yes, you absolutely read that last startling and infuriating sentence correctly, the federal government via the Obama administration has taken upon itself to put its boot on the throat of the free press and dictate what news should be shared with the public, and what news does not qualify under its stated goals.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai acknowledged that the latest Obama administration initiative could be used to “pressure media organizations into covering certain stories.” Pai had this to say about the freedom of the press issue during an interview with the Wall Street Journal:

“Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs, or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.”

The government monitoring program, if initiated as written, stomps on the constitutionally protected freedom of the press and free speech rights. As Thomas Jefferson once aptly stated, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” America, the nation founded upon individual freedoms, currently ranks on 46th (out of 180) on the World Press Freedom Index.

By Tara Dodrill