CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter reported that conservative broadcasting company Sinclair is requiring its stations to run "scripted" promos that "decry 'fake stories'" from national news outlets.
Local anchors are expected to read from a script that says, in part, “I’m concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.
“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking 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’…this is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”
Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said Sinclair forced its anchors to read propaganda that drives a false narrative, which hurts all journalists – including those at Sinclair stations.
Crighton said it would be okay if someone from the corporate offices recorded the script as a commentary, but Sinclair created a sad state of affairs by forcing local news anchors around the nation to read the script. And she said the corporate side of Sinclair doesn’t seem to care.
Panelist Will Buss said the corporation is blurring the line between the editorial and advertising parts of its operation. He said the statement sounds suspicious; he said it sounds like Sinclair is trying to hide something.
Buss said the situation is especially troubling because Sinclair owns stations that reach a large number of American households.
Panelist Rich Egger said he agrees with the statement – he too is troubled by irresponsible, one-sided news stories. He finds it ironic that one of the corporations engaging in such behavior is: Sinclair. He said the company should allow its local news anchors and journalists to report on their local communities instead of forcing them to read biased nonsense.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.