We rejoice, then, when journalists fight against any infringement on our right to a free press.
Why? Without a free press, the idea of a free society doesn’t stand a chance.
We call it just an idea at this point, given the fact that the Obama administration continues to hammer away at our freedoms — both those in society and in the press.
The most recent example of this abhorrent and relentless assault on the press came from the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC is charged primarily with licensing radio and television broadcast stations, and monitoring their on-air programming to make sure it stays within the bounds of public decency.
Up until this past year, the FCC mainly stayed out of the business of newspapering, and certainly didn’t have any public interest or say over what stories were or weren’t pursued within newsroom — broadcast or print — walls.
But, this past year, under the reign of a commission appointed by President Obama, the FCC concocted a program that would have put federal officials inside the walls of newsrooms to grill reporters, editors and news directors about what kinds of stories they pursue, why, and the process by which stories either are spiked or sent to the front page.
For the first time in America’s history, the federal government sought to exert control over news content.
While it’s unclear exactly how the FCC would have controlled or otherwise punished newsrooms — especially because newspapers do not have to be licensed by the federal agency — it’s clear their very presence would have had a chilling effect on newsgathering and news decision-making.
The Tribune’s ownership would no doubt have put up a fight against this FCC tampering, and they likely would have been able to do so because the FCC doesn’t have a toehold in our operation after our parent corporation last year sold the only radio stations it owned.
But many other large news organizations would likely have been more intimidated given the facts that these publicly traded companies also own television and/or radio stations that are licensed by the FCC.
Luckily, we won’t have to test the willingness of news organizations to fight long and hard against this federal intrusion. Thanks to pressure from Republicans in Congress, this incarnation of the pilot program was scuttled late last week. This is our reason to celebrate.
The next program the FCC cooks up, however, will need close scrutiny because the commission’s assurance that they “overstepped the bounds of what is required … and would be modifying the draft study” could very well be hot air, meant to pacify those ringing the liberty bell.
As always, we must remain vigilant — for both our freedoms as the press and those of society as a whole.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to email@example.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.