In March, Sinclair Broadcast Group TV stations started airing promos in which local anchors expressed concern about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.”
The scripted, word-for-word promos were met with discontent by some of the anchors who were required to read them and created a social media whirlwind after websites like Deadspin and ThinkProgress mashed the promos together into one, eerie “journalistic responsibility message.”
Critics have long argued Sinclair Broadcast Group uses its local stations to advance a right-leaning agenda. Since 2015, it has required its stations to air Sinclair-produced “must-run” packages that highlight a conservative perspective. One recent must-run segment explored the concept of a “deep state” of public authorities trying to undermine President Trump.
Sinclair is already the largest owner of television stations in the United States, owning or operating 193 stations across the country – and if the FCC approves its $3.9 billion bid to buy Tribune Media, that number would grow by 40 and give Sinclair stations in major markets like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Larry sits down with two media ethics experts to discuss the promos and their role in the larger media landscape.
Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota
Jeffrey McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University in Indiana and former journalist; he is the author of “Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007); he tweets @Prof_McCall