Commentary

Filling In The Blanks In Sinclair's 'Anti-Fake News' Promos

Sinclair Broadcast Group's monolithic on-air advertising of its anti-“fake news” promos -- in which many of its stations' TV anchors read the same exact copy -- doesn't provide many answers. And it doesn't ask many questions.

It also doesn't point the finger at specific news stories or TV networks. Instead, there is just a general wholesale whipping of news in general. We are left to fill in the blanks.

A month ago, it was revealed that Sinclair would be forcing its TV station news anchors to read exactly the same on-air promo -- which alarmed many people. Sinclair has 193 U.S. TV stations in 89 markets and is the largest owner of U.S. TV stations.

No TV network or media names were mentioned in the specific on-air promos. But President Trump doesn't mind telling you who he thinks it is. Here is a tweet on Monday after Deadspin released its one minute-and-thirty-eight-second video montage.

Trump said: "So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke."

Part of this Deadspin video was available weeks ago, after the news first broke on CNN about Sinclair's efforts in early March.

In the montage, there are many different markets' local TV station promo clips reading the same script. While we are hearing the spiel from the anchors, in the background of those individual station videos, we see many network logos -- those of Fox News, ABC, CBS and NBC.

Are these the fake news producers, or the real news producers? It's hard to tell.

For the actual/casual viewer, the perception is that there is something sinister afoot. If this was a TV series, we would be left with a cliffhanger. Perhaps all would be revealed in the next episode.

In a statement to CNN at the time in early March, Scott Livingston, senior vice president of news for Sinclair, said the promos were being done in reference to fake news on social media and that “this promo reminds our viewers of this mission” by Sinclair.

So this is a promo -- not a news story.

If you are going to tease a news story in a local TV broadcast, you need to deliver that news story -- or explain why it didn't run. If not, you are not being honest with your audience. In other words, you need facts to back up your pitch.

Next time, perhaps Sinclair should deliver more -- and name specific traditional news organizations. They should do their due diligence and complete the story. After all, they are promoting fair and balanced news -- promo or not.

Maybe there was some concern here: Would Sinclair viewers tune in to more of its newscasts -- or turn away? And -- perhaps more intriguingly -- what would local TV newscast advertisers do?

Here is a better approach, especially if it's this important to “remind” its viewers: Show us -- don't tease us. We'll take it from there.

3 comments about "Filling In The Blanks In Sinclair's 'Anti-Fake News' Promos".
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  1. Bill Shane from Eastlan Ratings, April 3, 2018 at 2:13 p.m.

    The thing that amuses me the most is that Sinclair is criticizing the big 3 networks which they carry on most of their stations.  Here's a tip for David Smith: If you think the networks news is such a fake, then why not drop your affiliation with them?  You have 15 NBC affiliates, so start there, pay them backl whatever they paid you and go independent.  Is therea problem with that?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 3, 2018 at 7:33 p.m.

    Fascists do not have to prove anything or tell you anything. Nostrovya !

  3. Bill Shane from Eastlan Ratings replied, April 3, 2018 at 8:32 p.m.

    Very well said.  Bravo!!

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