By: Olivia Wile
At the beginning of this month, it was revealed that Sinclair Broadcast group, an American telecommunications company that owns news stations around the country, mandated a script for their news anchors to read on camera.
Since Sinclair owns these stations, it may be difficult at first to recognize the major error in this protocol; it may even seem reasonable that they control the content produced by their stations.
However, as soon as media groups such as Sinclair begin requiring their outlets to follow such orders, the integrity of both the anchors and news itself goes into question.
For those unaware, the script mandated by Sinclair was that in which warns against fake news, of all things. The second paragraph of the script reads:
“But we’re 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.”
What is more concerning than fake news is that Sinclair is ultimately encouraging it by requiring its’ news rooms to read such a statement. One may argue that it is the fault of the producers or anchors at these stations to go forward with this instead of recognizing the error in it.
However, a mandate, according to Merriam Webster, is “an authoritative command; a formal order from a superior court or official to an inferior one.” This means that even if the producers or anchors at these stations did not feel it was ethical to read the script, their jobs are easily at stake if they are to question, or refuse an order.
Though Sinclair claims their branch stations are not producing bias content, who really knows what other agendas they have been pushing. In paragraph six of the script, the widely-known conservative media group that is Sinclair assures viewers they do not lean towards a certain party:
“At (insert news station) it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”
Great as it sounds, how can we as a population even believe this, let alone not question what other mandates Sinclair has been sending its’ stations.
As a result, not only has the public lost its’ trust in these local stations, but once again our industry is under fire for being bias.
Unfortunate as it is, after this, hopefully our field can rally around change for our craft to remain what its’ designed to do; act as the fourth estate, the objective check on power.