The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to compile a detailed list of journalists, bloggers and media influencers, a move that could be nothing more than sound PR practice or something much more sinister. And with Trump's anti-mainstream media obsession, it's no wonder that people, including journalists, are suspicious.
Word about the list preparation began to spread late this week with a DHS job posting seeking a contractor to provide “media monitoring services.” The contractor will create a searchable database of about 290,000 news sources, both foreign and domestic.
In addition, the contractor will help DHS monitor “traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event,." The posting says that “Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers.”
The posting specifies that the online platform also should be able to instantly translate media from 100 languages, including Chinese and Russian, into English -- and be able to analyze the coverage’s “sentiment” and “momentum.”
Stories about this posted online quickly attracted expressions of concern regarding the motivation for this initiative, with plenty of suspicions expressed that this is simply an effort to curtail the free press.
However, Homeland Security Press Secretary Tyler Houlton tweeted, "Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists."
It is commonplace for PR agencies and companies and organizations with PR operations to develop their own media lists, which often include comments regarding a journalist's attitudes.
So is this simply that? Or is it something more sinister? Will DHS end up with some sort of mechanism to blacklist unfriendly journalists, bloggers and influencers?
With Trump in power, having described the media as "the enemy of the people," it's no wonder people are suspicious concerned.