Why Sinclair's Practices are Bad for Journalism and Viewers

The Washington Post took a look at stations in Western Pennsylvania and noticed that the news was exactly the same. 

The Post looked at stories broadcast on WJAC, the NBC affiliate in Johnstown, have appeared on nearby station WATM, the ABC affiliate. And many of those stories are broadcast on WWCP, the Fox station here, as well.

Not just the same topics — identical stories, reported by the same reporter or anchor, and repeated, almost verbatim at times, by the other stations.

Recently, for example, both WATM and WWCP aired during their morning newscasts the same report about a Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony. Anchors at both stations used virtually the same language to set up the story.

The stories featured the same sound bite from the same official. Then, during its noon newscast, WJAC repeated the whole thing.

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.06.33 AM.png

All three stations are either owned or operated by Sinclair. 

While the news airs on different stations, it all emanates from WJAC’s studios.

Inside, reporters and anchors buzz around two sets equipped with backdrops representing the three different stations. The anchors assemble in front of the appropriate backdrop when that station has its newscast scheduled.

This practice by Sinclair and other media companies to cut costs by consolidating newsrooms that may have once competed against each other — creating a uniformity of news coverage and, critics fear, diminishing the watchdog power of local media.

The Post put together a video that shows why this practice is bad for journalism and cheats the viewer from getting independent voices in the market.