The Federal Communications Commission today voted to study so-called
“shared services” agreements or “SSA’s,” which allow a station owned by
one company to provide news for a competing company in the same market.
Since these SSA’s have become widely used, some companies have decided
to shut down their newsrooms and contract with a competitor to provide
This results in the layoffs of journalists and reduces the diversity of viewpoints that the FCC supports.
I have personally talked to four of these journalists since FCC Chairman
Thomas Wheeler first announced his intention to take a closer look at
this issue on March 6. In some cases the journalists were hired by the
new station or were forced to move for a new opportunity. Sometimes they
remained unemployed for a length of time or left the media industry
There are many more people who have been affected by these newsroom
“mergers” but cannot talk about it publicly for fear of sanctions by
their current employers.
For those who work in these newly “shared” newsrooms, there is more work and less time for in-depth or investigative reporting.
There are also fewer management jobs, leading to less diversity among those who make decisions on news coverage and hiring.
The FCC will not completely eliminate the practice of Shared Services
Agreements. I think that is appropriate because there may be limited
cases where these agreements make sense. But, given the number of
journalists who have been displaced by them, I’m glad to see the FCC
take a closer look at how the SSA’s are being used.
Bob Butler President National Association of Black Journalists