INBA President Laura Trendle Polus released this statement Monday, after consulting with the INBA Board of Directors:
A video featuring anchors at numerous Sinclair-owned stations reading promo copy has gone viral. In the copy, which apparently went to all 192 Sinclair stations, the anchors say they and their stations are concerned about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” The INBA is also troubled by this trend.
Of course, many believe Sinclair is a major offender when it comes to one-sided news stories. Criticism of their must-runs and conservative commentary has been swirling for months.
Sinclair has now responded to the outcry. SVP Scott Livingston sent a message to newsrooms Monday, firing back at the criticisms. We share Sinclair’s expressed concern about demonstrably fake stories such as “Pope Endorses Trump,” and “Pizzagate.”
The Illinois News Broadcasters Association has long stood for the best parts of journalism. For fair, unbiased reporting. For using multiple sources. For emphasizing localism. Our Code of Ethics says we will “check the accuracy of the facts and report them objectively and impartially” and also that we will “vigorously defend guarantees in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
We have many current and former INBA members at Sinclair stations. They are not bad journalists. They are not bad people. But what they are being made to do is not good. Journalists should not be required to broadcast information with a specific agenda. Our democracy relies on an informed citizenry. If we are not given the freedoms to inform our citizenry with unbiased information, we have failed to do our jobs.
Amid growing criticism of cable news coverage, local TV news remains one of the most trusted sources, and local news is where INBA members are working every day, every night, and every weekend. But the trust is getting thinner, and what Sinclair is doing is threatening to destroy what’s left of it.