The following is a compilation of comments and insight shared with me by three current Sinclair employees regarding the promo controversy. I promised each of the Sinclair employees absolute anonymity because they fear losing their jobs. This fact takes us directly to the crux of the issue that has been lost behind the fury on all sides of the debate. The people on the video and those who read the Sinclair statement on air are people, just like everyone arguing over the promo.
I interviewed the three individuals over the last two days. Each of them fears for their job.
All agree, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, “completely bungled this,” as one interviewee told me. Another added, “on-air talent was thrown under the bus.” Two individuals stated that the ones taking the “hits” are the Sinclair employees, not the corporate types who instigated the promo.
All three believe that Sinclair, and those attacking the journalists, have taken the statement “out of context.” “If you read the statement for what it is, I stand behind it” said one of the individuals. They added, “Sinclair used its employees as political pawns” doing little, if anything, to protect them.
All three articulated that as journalists, they work hard to “stay neutral and unbiased” while delivering objective news. Added by one, “we cover news with integrity.”
Sinclair has made it difficult for them by not allowing them to make statements, and when allowed to make statements, they “are watered down,” added one person.
The journalists have been criticized for not speaking out, but as those who shared their thoughts with me stated, it is not easy “because employees were given little choice” about reading, or not reading the statement on air. Their jobs were on the line and as one individual told me, “most people can’t walk out of a job.”
It was Sinclair who made the issue political, but it is the employees who are taking the brunt of the promo. As one individual succinctly expressed, “I know the people featured in it, are not playing politics,” they are just doing their jobs.
When I asked, what would you tell those reading today’s post what is the one thing they wish everyone understood, all three said, people forget that journalists are people also, added one person, “before judging us, understand that we can’t simply walk away from our jobs, as we have bills to pay, just like everyone else.”
All three were clear to me that they want people to know that the journalists in the videos believe in “free,” “honest” and in a “free objective news media.”
As I was getting ready to post this article yesterday, Maxwell Strachan posted “How To Hit Sinclair Where It Hurts, According To An Anonymous Sinclair Anchor” on Huffington Post. In his post, Strachan posted that the way to “hurt” Sinclair is to “talk to your lawmaker” about stopping the Tribune deal from going through.” I echo that statement.
For those interested, below is the script of the promo as published by ThinkProgress on March 30, 2018. I made no attempt to verify that the transcript is an exact representation of what was broadcast by the various stations.
Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.
(A) 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.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At KOMO 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.
(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.
(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.
(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.