Journalists object to being forced to air Sinclair’s controversial must-run “fake news” segment

The viral video with clips from dozens of Sinclair news anchors reading the same cookie cutter script provoked outcry from many sources -- including from the news anchors themselves.

"I felt like a POW recording a message," one anchor at a Sinclair-owned station told CNN of his involvement in the controversial must-run segment. Other Sinclair employees said "it advanced the company's agenda at the expense of their own credibility." One Sinclair producer in Nebraska resigned to protest what he called Sinclair's "obvious bias." The resigning producer told CNN: "This is almost forcing local news anchors to lie to their viewers."

A group of anonymous journalists at Sinclair stations explained the financial risk of quitting or resisting company policy, even though they disagreed with the company’s message. “Under a clause that appears in many contracts (as Bloomberg News has reported), if an employee quits, he or she could end up owing the company thousands of dollars,” the journalists wrote. “The penalty for breaking a contract is a payment to Sinclair of part of the employee’s annual salary, based on a complex formula. That’s money most employees simply don’t have. It’s a decision between possibly going bankrupt or sticking it out for another X number of years.”

Most reports of the video mentioned how Sinclair's audience reach – and Sinclair's ability to push its narrative into 72 percent of the nation’s households – would increase if the Sinclair-Tribune merger were approved. And the editorial boards of the Boston Globe, the Modesto Bee, the Orange County Register, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Charlotte Observer responded to the video, agreeing that the Sinclair-Tribune merger would stifle local and independent media voices.

“If you want to make a difference, lobby your lawmakers to have them stop the Tribune deal from going through, because that is what is dangerous about this,” an anonymous Sinclair anchor said in an interview with Huffington Post. “It’s dangerous for any company to own as many stations as Sinclair does.”

 

Links:

Viral video shows dangers of Sinclair-Tribune merger (Speed Matters, Apr. 5, 2018)

Sinclair Broadcasting Orders Local Anchors To Record Bizarre ‘Hostage’ Video (Huffington Post, Apr. 2, 2018)

Sinclair tells stations to air media-bashing promos - and the criticism goes viral (CNN, Apr. 2, 2018)

Sinclair producer in Nebraska resigns to protest 'obvious bias' (CNN, Apr. 4, 2018)

We’re journalists at a Sinclair news station. We’re pissed. (Vox, Apr. 5, 2018)

Sinclair’s silly stunt hints at deeper woes (Boston Globe, Apr. 2, 2018)

Sinclair makes mockery of ethical reporting with corporate propaganda (Modesto Bee, Apr. 2, 2018)

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s ‘fake news’ campaign attacks real journalism (Orange County Register, Mar. 21, 2018)

Sinclair panders to Trump on Orwellian video (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 2, 2018)

Sinclair's 'hostage videos' a reminder of need for a free press (Charlotte Observer, Apr. 2, 2018)

How To Hit Sinclair Where It Hurts, According To An Anonymous Sinclair Anchor (Huffington Post, Apr. 4, 2018)