The Federal Communications Commission is launching a study that some warn could limit freedom of the press.
Former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell says it may limit journalists.
"How much government coercion might there be with all of this? Is the government trying to ultimately dictate speech and dictate how journalists are supposed to do their jobs?"
The FCC says the study aims to "identify and understand the critical information needs of the American public, with special emphasis on vulnerable-disadvantaged populations."
However, current FCC commissioner Ajit Pai said a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed Wednesday that the study could allow researchers to "grill reporters, editors, and station owners about how they decide which stories to run."
The study will include newspaper and Internet content and is scheduled to begin this spring in Columbia, South Carolina.