Hate The Game, Not The Player – My Take on the Sinclair Scandal [OPINION]
You have a right to be angry that the bias is leaking into our local news, but take your anger out on the company, not the journalists.
By now, you have probably seen the viral video, released by Deadspin, that features news anchors all across the country reading the exact same script, provided by their parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting.
If not, watch THIS.
Are you shocked? Amused? Or did you just yell, "I KNEW IT!" All three reactions are just fine.
We all know that some cable news networks lean to the right, some lean to the left. What scares people with THIS story is that it's bleeding over on to our local airwaves.
As a person who has worked in the broadcast industry since 1997, just after the communications deregulation act was passed, I watched as our industry (radio, TV, print) was taken over by a handful of companies that had the best and most credit.
*side note* 20 years later, most of those companies are gone and/or declaring bankruptcy. Go figure.
The biggest fear amongst people in the media industry was our control over local content. They may not TELL you this, but all airwaves (TV and radio) are publicly owned and only LICENSED to companies. One of our core missions and requirements of our license is to serve our local listening/viewing area.
I'm not going to lie to you - there were some pretty ugly changes, thanks to decisions made by said parent companies:
*Cumulus Broadcasting (based out of Atlanta) was notorious for corporate playlists, where local music directors had a limited choice of what music they could play
*iHeartMedia (aka Clear Channel, based out of San Antonio) pioneered a new technology called "cyber jocking," where a handful of big-city DJs were able to record shows for smaller cities all over the country, putting local DJs out of work.
*The big companies took TV hosts and put them on the radio (aka Ryan Seacrest, Nick Cannon), which also put local DJs out of work.
So yes, things turned out just the way we thought they would.
But I will tell you one facet of broadcasters that have always amazed me: journalists. Since college, their dedication to an ethical code has inspired me. During my college radio show, I was told to not "nickname" my news person, as it would diminish their credibility. Mind you, those were journalists in training. Many of those same people (still my friends) have gone on to work anywhere from CBS Radio NYC to small-town USA on the AM-dial.
It truly is an art form that doesn't pay well and usually requires packing up and moving all over the country. So, while you SHOULD be questioning the motives of Sinclair, we also ask you to direct your anger at THEM and NOT your local newsroom.
We know people at NBC 25/FOX 66 who are good journalists, that love what they do, and may not AGREE with what they are being asked to do. But it's a REALLY tough business and, because of the deregulations listed above, the jobs are becoming more scarce by the day. We're all just trying to stay employed at a job that we love.
We are divided as a nation, and stories like this are not going to help - but unfortunately, it's the truth. So before you yell "FAKE NEWS" at a reporter who is filming a piece, or take to your keyboard to tell an anchor how biased they are, remember this: those people WANT to bring you the news. They've worked hard to do it for little pay. And if they weren't in the newsroom, you'd be asking them WHY they didn't sacrifice more to do what they love?
Broadcasting has never been a glorious gig, and being a journalist is even less. They do their own make-up, buy their own clothes, write, film and edit their own stories, and have to endure non-stop critiques from armchair quarterbacks on social media. And I'm not even tossing in the can of gasoline that is the current Presidential administration, which has waged a war against the media on a daily basis.
Hate the game, not the player. If you're unhappy about what you've seen, tell them: call Sinclair Broadcast group - 410-568-1500.
(But I don't think you'll get far since a leaked memo from the CEO has told them NOT to engage)