APRIL 4, 2018―University of Delaware media experts weighed in on Deadspin’s recent viral video that merged Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s mandated “fake news” announcement by local television anchors into a single stream of “group speech.”
“For decades, the media industry has become more and more consolidated, largely due to deregulation, so that owners can own more stations in more markets," said Lindsay Hoffman, associate director of the CPC, National Agenda director, associate professor of communication and political science. "With that consolidation comes standardization in content. Sinclair, as of now, is in 38 percent of American households. If it acquires the Tribune Company—which is likely given the current makeup of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—it will be present in three-quarters of American households. The cost of big media ownership at the local level is that ‘local’ news is more perception than reality. The news is a profit-driven business, so media strategists and corporate owners are always looking for opportunities to glean a profit or reduce costs. And all this is happening at a time when Americans say they trust the information they get from local TV news more than any other source of news.”
"Sinclair “must-runs” such as the 'Terrorism Alert Desk' and 'Bottom Line with Boris' affect the ideological tenor of its newscasts," said Danilo Yanich, UD professor of public policy & administration, policy scientist with the Center for Community Research and Service, and director of the master's program in urban affairs and public policy. Yanich studies the relationship between local news content and ownership structure in local television markets. "Sinclair is the only station group that imposes the must-runs on its stations. It claims to be the provider of fair news while bashing other media in the context of an organization-wide edict. The irony―rather, contradiction―is obvious, except to Sinclair."
In the present media environment of fake news, continued Yanich, "the claim by any media source that it is the true defender of journalism and that all of the others are fake can be an enticing pitch to those citizens who are disinclined to look further than that statement. [Sinclair] might just get away with it. That is the real threat to how local audiences understand their communities, including politics."