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Ah, Our Media.

Posted by V the K at 4:29 pm - April 1, 2018.
Filed under: Media Bias

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  1. All the stations are owned by the Sinclair Broadcast company.

    Comment by Juan — April 1, 2018 @ 8:01 pm - April 1, 2018

  2. This little compilation has been getting a lot of buzz on the right side of the interwebs. Most of the comment and commentary which accompany it is in the vein of “Can you believe it? We always knew they colluded with each other and were in cahoots with the parrot-industrial-complex—I just can’t believe they made it so obvious!”

    What most of the comment/commentary is oblivious to (and, sadly, usually takes a left-leaning troll or well-wisher to point out) is that what all of the stations parroting the same viewpoint have in common is, as Juan noted, a common owner: Sinclair Broadcast Group [NASDAQ: SBGI] of Hunt Valley MD. Also lacking in the comment/commentary is the factoid that SBG is a conservative media operation, whose controlling family has received criticism for only airing right-of-center (usually labeled “right wing” in standard reporting) viewpoints on the company-owned station. More interesting is that their owned outlets have been mandated to air company-approved commentary multiple times per week.

    At one point, the Sinclair stations were an oddity in modern broadcast television ownership; but their management methods have come under greater scrutiny with their aggressive acquisitions over the past decade or so, particularly with their in-process acquisition of the Tribune Company assets, which will make them the largest television ownership group both by number of stations and by market coverage. It will also bring their reach into traditionally non-conservative TV markets like Chicago and New York City.

    Now it’s fun to think that some of the largest (and most liberal) metropolitan areas will have exposure to a company whose owners have made little effort to cover up their support for {gasp} one Donald J. Trump. But the downside is that the question needs to be asked: is having common parrotted talking points from the right any better than common parrotted talking points from the left (or anywhere in-between)? Further, do the viewing audiences in disparate parts of a very diverse country need to be exposed to one common viewpoint, dispensed from a central corporate office without any context? I’m not even sure that the required commentaries are labeled as such (which, if so, is a very clear ethical violation).

    The worst part for the people who staff their varied stations is that they have to dispense commentary that may be perceived as their own, even if they might otherwise agree with it. This is very demoralizing to the profession and is akin to working in a retail environment where an All Sales Final policy is the norm and having to support that, even when the store sells faulty merchandise.

    The good thing about this clip is that it exposes the trend towards communication homogenization, where everything is the same, not just production-wise (standard graphics, etc) but also from a content perspective. If people are able to see how that plays out on a local level, perhaps they will be willing to see how it plays out in a broader context and see that what appears in today’s New York Times will be the lead on CNN and MSNBC tomorrow and that all are more alike than they are different. Too many, particularly on the left, can’t begin to see how that is currently the case.

    Comment by RSG — April 1, 2018 @ 9:33 pm - April 1, 2018

  3. Right wing, left wing, bat wing, gull wing…I don’t care who is doing it, it’s wrong and why I watch no news anymore. Media has been biased for many years now, every which way, it’s just more overt now. Good commentary RSG.

    Comment by TADFORD2 — April 2, 2018 @ 3:21 am - April 2, 2018

  4. Scary clip. And I’ve been wary of how so many Fox stations seem so much the same; this is worse. I don’t like nation-wide media giants–not in TV or in newspapers.

    With newspapers, I think they should admit their bias and then go forth as they will. Saying they’re neutral or independent and have “journalistic ethics” and then being biased (Washington Post and New York Times in particular) is lying, and that helps no one.

    Lord knows I don’t trust the federal government, and think that fewer regulations are better than more, but it looks as though we need to get back to limits on ownership of TV stations again if the monolithic owners try to have all their stations sound so similar. (And for this it doesn’t matter which politics–they shouldn’t be nearly indistinguishable.)

    Comment by TheQuietMan — April 2, 2018 @ 7:08 am - April 2, 2018

  5. #3 — The British have it nailed down.

    They have liberal / Labour newspapers, conservative / Tory newspapers, and that “newspaper” with the topless young lady on Page 3.

    Something for everyone!

    Comment by Julie the Jarhead — April 2, 2018 @ 9:20 am - April 2, 2018

  6. Right wing, left wing, bat wing, gull wing…I don’t care who is doing it, it’s wrong and why I watch no news anymore.

    Exactly.

    Comment by V the K — April 2, 2018 @ 9:37 am - April 2, 2018

  7. Is there a way to get these poor announcers back behind counters and on chairs again? They look so uncomfortable and awkward standing there. About the only exception is the weathermen as they spend most of their time gesturing.

    Comment by TheQuietMan — April 2, 2018 @ 10:01 am - April 2, 2018

  8. Is there a way to get these poor announcers back behind counters and on chairs again?

    This has been a trend for a number of years now, to avoid the Talking Head syndrome and to not just ‘tell’ you the news, but ‘show’ you as well. The traditional Ted Baxter-style newsreader format—behind a desk shown only from the chest up—has long been considered passé, particularly in the age of advanced technology.

    A notable example which received national attention was when the lowest-rated Denver TV news operation hired a new news director who decided to shake things up and bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “action news” by importing a Canadian newsreader who, dressed in alluring attire, would literally run on to the set with her co-anchor as the program opened and breathlessly announce the top story. Neither the format nor the anchor team (nor the news director, for that matter) lasted long, yet there are still online stories mocking the format almost twenty years after the fact.

    Such stunts have given way to new forms of presentation, such as the reporter who is summoned on set to present his or her story, standing in front of a giant monitor which, in the latest twist, is actually a touchscreen and is used to swipe between graphics illustrating the story like a giant iPad. Part of this aligns with the general trend to keep movement on the screen so that when channel-flippers are zipping through the channel lineup it will appear that the program has changed since the last scan. (It’s also why commercials are now shorter in duration and have a level of motion usually reserved for action/adventure movies.)

    Interestingly, this is part of a larger trend towards moving staff away from traditional desks and counters. If you’ve been in a hotel which has been recently built or renovated in the past several years, you will note that the check-in desks are no longer desks or counters, but “stations” or enlarged podiums. The new trend in staff training is to assist the customer with their needs then come out from behind the podium and make personal contact then direct them to where they need to go. Same with retail, where singular customer service counters have largely been eliminated in favor of service kiosks throughout the store or combining them with checkout stations. In the TV news biz, at least there are still desks of some sort; at the current rate, I expect holograms will someday fill in for production sets and perhaps even news personnel in the not-so-distant future.

    Comment by RSG — April 2, 2018 @ 11:00 am - April 2, 2018

  9. The Sinclair News script said:

    “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories,” the anchors say in the video. “This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.”

    President Trump tweeted:

    So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.

    Sinclair was having an “editorial statement” read by each affiliate in which they blasted biased and false news. The inference, of course, is that Sinclair and each local affiliate opposes broadcasting biased and fake news.

    I do not know whether Sinclair is of a higher order of journalistic integrity than other syndicates. But, in this case of Sinclair trying to separate itself from the pack, the context has been mauled.

    Comment by Heliotrope — April 2, 2018 @ 3:22 pm - April 2, 2018

  10. @ Julie the Jarhead,

    I’ve been told by people in a position to know that British hiring managers will sometime ask which newspapers you read.

    Comment by Blair Ivey — April 2, 2018 @ 4:38 pm - April 2, 2018

  11. @5 – Julie – I love the English papers and magazines. I’ve subscribed to the Spectator off and on but $200+/yr is a steep price.

    I pay for online access to the Telegraph and I do find interesting content in the Guardian. The Daily Mail is a bit sensationalist but covers a lot of US news better than what we find here. And the Sun and the Star – well, they can be entertaining.

    The thing is that the Brits and Canucks don’t try to conceal their biases and that’s why they’re interesting. The Aussie sites are good, too, but there are only so many hours in the day.

    Some years ago, I spent a couple of weeks in Nova Scotia and discovered the National Post and rediscovered the joy of the daily newspaper. The Kansas City Star is lefty and monotonous – I don’t know how they stay in business.

    Comment by KCRob — April 2, 2018 @ 6:41 pm - April 2, 2018

  12. The broad on the right looks very sad, or she has major constipation.

    Comment by davinci38 — April 3, 2018 @ 10:46 am - April 3, 2018

  13. The Kansas City Star is lefty and monotonous – I don’t know how they stay in business.

    The short answer is very simple: they’re the only game in town. That fact alone is what keeps most newspapers still publishing with dead tree pulp, alive. It certainly isn’t the stellar journalism, which has declined rapidly since the turn of the century.

    The longer answer shines a light on the real problem for the newspaper industry. In a comment on a story about the efforts of the hedge fund which owns a large number of daily papers in the US which is reportedly trying to maintain its desired 20% profit margin on the business by cutting staff and increasing subscription rates, a person close to one of the suffering papers notes that you can’t have a viable print newspaper business without the same aspects today as in the past. That is, you still need everything from newsprint and ink to the people who drop the final product off on doorsteps and front porches.

    That’s because the average newspaper subscriber is 80 years old and the way they consume the product is the same way people did 100 years ago. Forget apps, digital replicas, and online-only content. Old School is what it’s all about for the largest consumer base. The big problem, aside from increasing costs all across the board, is obvious: the faithful readers who keep ad rates stable and subscription money coming in are on their way out the door. In 10-15 years they will be no more. That’s good news for the bean counters who think paying people to actually print and deliver a publication is madness, but horrible news for the people who actually provide the content on the legacy operational model. They already know that having a captive audience is the best way for consumers to see what they do and that the audience outside of the dead tree delivery model is fickle, flighty, and doesn’t really pay the bills unless they are fed stories about Unbelievable Cats and Quick Ways To Make Sex More Exciting. No one who really cares about delivering information wants to be stuck producing stories like those two, no matter how much money they might make for their employer. Which begs a related question: is BuzzFeed really profitable?

    Comment by RSG — April 3, 2018 @ 7:04 pm - April 3, 2018

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