Reality Check: Media Consolidation & News Script Repeaters

April 12, 2018 in News by RBN Staff


Source: Reality Check



A viral video showing news anchors all over the nation reading the exact same words verbatim has people wondering, is this fake news?

The promotional content all comes from media giant Sinclair, who owns all of these local broadcast news stations. But is Sinclair the only broadcaster that controls what its anchors and reporters say?

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

It is the latest “outrage” over fake news, now a viral video of local TV anchors all reading the same copy.

Last week I explained in a Reality Check why this video isn’t about fake news. It’s a promo video.

The uproar over this video though is a little disingenuous because it is pointed solely at Sinclair, which is being painted as “pushing the Trump agenda.

News networks across the U.S., owned by various corporations, have been doing this for years. And it’s not just Sinclair that controls messaging.

Truth In Media Editor-in-Chief Annabelle Bamforth explained in an op/ed for our site that local news stations have been parroting familiar stories across the U.S.

“Among the most popular illustrations of this practice is a segment called “Media Reacts” from Late Night With Conan O’Brien, in which O’Brien pokes fun at the identical media messaging from local news stations. Note that a handful of stations in this clip ARE owned by Sinclair, but there are plenty of stations in these clips that are not; some are owned by Nexstar Media Group, Tegna, Heartland Media, Tribune and Raycom Media.”

In a report for Truth In Media from 2013, our writer quoted my experience as a TV anchor at multiple stations across the country. What I had to say then, I stand by today.

“In most of these cases where O’Brien uses anchors from different TV stations all over the country reading the exact same script word for word, the source of that script is some kind of wire service. This means those stations have subscribed to AP, Reuters, CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, etc wire services. In those cases, the wire story will come down and a station reporter or producer will copy and paste it word for word into a newscast.

“The problem with this policy is that reporters and producers simply take that content as gospel and no one in any newsroom ever bothers to fact check or verify if the wire story is correct. Simply put, in a newsroom, if it is on the wire it has to be true.”

That was five years ago, well before the phrase “fake news” was trending in our culture.

The problem with newscasters using their news block to reading station promos or wire stories verbatim is that they are participating in a propagandizing of the population.

This demonstrates the danger of when one company—whether it’s Sinclair, Tribune, Cox, Meredith, or another—owns and controls so many stations around the country. If the corporate leaders decide to require stations to read news stories, without allowing anchors or reporters to fact check or edit their scripts, that’s a problem.

Now consider this: with media consolidation, more and more stations in America are owned by fewer corporations. Each corporation can control the station’s messaging. And here’s the kicker: most American’s don’t even know who owns their local news station.

What you need to know is that there is a solution to all of this. It’s called decentralization.

No matter what they say, all corporations that own news media, whether TV, radio or internet are controlling what content you see.  Period.

But under a decentralized funding model, news can be created that is accountable, not to some corporate suit that wants to impress his or friends, not to politicians, not to advertisers like Big Pharma, but accountable to the truth.

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that on social media.