Journalism Programs Concerned over Sinclair’s News Promo

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Roughly a dozen journalism programs are expressing concern over a TV company's mandated news promo that gained nationwide attention.

Sinclair Broadcasting owns or runs nearly 200 local stations around the country and wants government approval to buy about 40 more--including WNEP-TV.

Newswatch 16 went to Marywood University on Saturday to get reaction to the backlash against the media company's ethics.

Communications students at Marywood University learn the ropes, the do's and don'ts in the world of journalism, and lately, one story has caused students and faculty to be concerned.

Freshman Justin Kucharski watched a recent compilation of local news promos on Deadspin. It was made from scripts Sinclair recently required its local news anchors to read.

"It was very alarming, especially in this major where they promote creativity, and just to see these news stations are using the same dialogue is very alarming. It's scary and kind of discouraging in a way," Kucharski said.

Broadcast students aren't the only ones concerned by these promos. Roughly one dozen leaders at journalism schools across the country, including Syracuse and Maryland, sent a letter to Sinclair saying in part:

"In making the leap to disparage news media generally--without specifics--Sinclair has diminished trust in the news media overall."

Lindsey Wotanis heads up the broadcast journalism program at Marywood. She received a doctorate at Maryland.

"I was really happy to see the leadership and faculty at UMD and other colleges around the country to come together and put that letter together and write Sinclair and say this is really troubling what you're doing. And it's going against what we're doing to educate our students about best practices for journalism," Wotanis said.

Wotanis believes we should expect our news to be free from not only the influence of government, but whoever should own a tv station as well.

"I think local news is the life blood of journalism, and to know that it could be influenced in this kind of way is troubling for citizens. We need good journalism to have good democracy," Wotanis added.

"It feels like it's a big brother kind of thing, like some big corporation is coming in and trying to mandate the news," said senior Terry Thompson.

The promos are only the latest cause for concern regarding Sinclair's operations. The company includes right-leaning opinion segments that stations are required to run.

Students looking to have a career in the industry are alarmed by it all.

"With WNEP, we're here in Scranton. It's what we watch a lot just to give me pointers with the stuff we do here. It's not something I'd like to see happen there," said Kucharski.

For its part, Sinclair reportedly responded to the letter of concern saying:

"We understand that the promo prompted an emotional response, and we'll learn from that in the future. We value the connections our anchors have with their communities and trust that they will continue reporting local news for their viewers as only they know how to do."

WNEP-TV is still run by Tribune Media. The sale to Sinclair still needs final approval.

8 comments

  • Silverfish Imperetrix

    The bolsheviks are running scared, although they own 96% of the World’s media. GO SINCLAIR!

  • Irene Sankey

    This is hard is hard to believe. If Sinclair acquires WNEP, I will no longer watch and will start a boycott of any local advertisers. I love knowing that the news you cover now is done to the best of your ability not the opinion of some corporate overlord.

    • Rusty Knyffe

      It might be harder to believe that WNEP does, indeed, follow an agenda. All news regarding criminal arrests typically will feature a photo of the alleged offender, but only if they are caucasian. People of color are not identified unless and until they are heading to trial. Unless, of course, it involves child neglect or abuse. Even in descriptions of suspects in “ongoing” stories, if the suspect is a person of color, they are NOT described as such. They are described as, “….wearing an orange hoodie and grey sweatpants.” Period.

      There is absolutely an agenda within news media, and Sick-Of-Fake-News nailed it. Without emotion being a factor or knee-jerk reactions, sit and contemplate the “news” as it is presented to the public. Weigh what you read and hear with an objective eye and without the background noise of rhetoric or emotions. If you’re able to do that, you’ll clearly see the agenda.

    • Silverfish Imperetrix

      It’ll be like a Chinese Fire Drill if Sinclair acquires WNEP, since it’s an ABC/Disney/ESPN affiliate. I’d love to be a fly on the wall there if that happens. LOL

  • sick-of-fake-news

    Wait. Having a common ‘promo’ for affiliates is now supposed to be questionable and a ‘news story’? Seems these so-called ‘journalists’ who are complaining can’t differentiate between a commercial for the station and news on the station. Where were these hand-wringers when CBS killed stories by Sheryl Atkinson that did not fawn over Obama like the rest of the LEFT WING MSM did?

    Yes the Main Stream Media is FAR LEFT. Anyone who disputes that lives on another planet in an alternate universe and alternate reality. There is no question there is a common concerted and deliberate effort by the MSM to put Trump in as negative light as possible by the same set of clowns who did nothing but give kid-glove softball coverage to any and everything Obama did.

    The lopsided obviously bias coverage given to Trump vs Obama is what should be of concern to these bastions of ‘media ethics’. LOL.

  • Rusty Knyffe

    Uh……….this isn’t anything new, at all. This has been going on for the past 8 years with the last 5 years being the most pronounced regurgitation of the exact same scripts within their franchises.

    What is even more disturbing is a complete lack of accuracy, true investigation and fact-finding, and neutrality. There is no middle-of-the-road in today’s “journalism.” Only sensationalism, fear-mongering, and trite reporting.

    • Axia

      It’s ironic how everyone still says “Liberal media” like there is such a thing. CNN is owned by Time Warner. MSNBC is owned by Comcast. Fox by News Corp. ABC by Disney. Many local stations are owned by megagroups like Sinclair as well. There are very few actual “Liberal” media orgs left in this country. It’s all sensationalism and divisiveness.

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