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.