One major TV station group is looking to bash national TV news networks via on-air promos intended to run next to local news time content, rather than ad content.
That’s not good. But that’s not the worst of it.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nearly 200 TV station group, is demanding its local TV on-air anchors -- its on-air journalists -- read these promos.
One initial copy of the promo, according to CNN, says:
“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common in the media. More alarming is that national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking the facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think'.”
These promos don’t offer any details. There are no specific TV networks and no specific TV stories cited to back up the claim.
According to a CNN report, many Sinclair TV stations news anchors aren’t happy about this, calling this forced move “manipulative.” Sinclair has long been associated with conservative, right-wing programming decisions.
If Sinclair senior executives have problems with current national TV journalism, here’s a suggestion: Do better journalism on your local TV stations. A new organization’s advertising (what you say) means little; but serious, substantial content, your journalism, means more.
I have no problem with general TV stations or network on-air promos talking about how news organizations are pursuing “truth” or the “facts” -- perhaps via a voiceover announcer and underlying video.
But putting one’s own on-air anchors/journalists in uncomfortable positions -- reading copy that attacks TV news competitors, without any proof -- takes on an Orwellian feel. It is not appropriate; it smacks of agitprop.
All this follows other Sinclair moves. For instance, specific corporate-wide "must run" news packages, as well as a regular segment called "Terrorism Alert Desk" about perceived security threats worldwide.
CNN says the new Sinclair TV news promo initiative is described as an "anchor-delivered journalistic responsibility message."
Journalistic responsibly begins at home -- just show the facts and tell the story. If you are good, save the promotional time and sell some advertising.