“Thanks to @the_evergrey’s recent shoutout to walking in your neighborhood, I spent the morning perusing parts of Alki Beach I’d thus far neglected,” she posted on Instagram. “Worth it.”
Thanks for tagging #theevergrey, Bekah! Now onto something else that’s a bit fishy…
This week we asked you to fill out a survey about your trust in media that we’re working with Seattle CityClub to share out. In the 160+ responses we’ve gotten so far (add yours by 2 p.m. today), many of you shared concerns about Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest broadcast company in the country and the parent company of Seattle’s KOMO-TV. (Here’s a great profile on Sinclair by Businessweek). Not sure what’s going on? Let’s break it down.
I keep hearing that people are upset about KOMO and Sinclair. Why?
Over the last year, TV stations, including KOMO, started airing pre-recorded news segments to talk about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” The thing that wasn’t immediately apparent to viewers? These clips were part of a mandatory script from Sinclair. That means that anchors from all of Sinclair’s nearly 200 TV stations across the U.S. were required to read from the same script. Check it out in this video montage that recently went viral and was compiled by the news site Deadspin.
And why’s this such a big deal?
Any time a journalist is required to say something by someone, it calls into question whether the public can trust the information the journalist is delivering — especially when the journalist doesn’t — or in a Sinclair journalist’s case, can’t — disclose that they were required to say it.
This story also blew up recently because Sinclair is trying to acquire broadcasting company Tribune Media, which would add 43 stations to its group. That concerns the company’s critics, who don’t want its practice of dictating broadcasts to its journalists to spread.
So what’s been the reaction to all this?
KOMO and other Sinclair stations have received a deluge of complaints from viewers who noticed that anchors nationwide were required to read these segments and were concerned that it was spreading a political agenda. Sinclair chairman David D. Smith shrugged it off, calling the segments “standard practice” for the industry and saying that “every word that comes out of the mouths of network news people is scripted and approved by someone.” And President Trump has been supportive of Sinclair – he tweeted: “The Fake News Networks, those that knowingly have a sick and biased AGENDA, are worried about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast.”
And how do KOMO and other Sinclair staffers feel about it?
Some KOMO anchors have been anonymously quoted in stories about their newsrooms’ plummeting morale, feeling pressured to change how they report the news, and being morally compromised. Also, one Sinclair employee in Nebraska has resigned, but others have said even if they wanted to quit, they can’t afford to break their contracts.
On the flip side, Molly Shen, another KOMO anchor, explained why she feels okay about reading from the script. She wrote on Facebook, “Ultimately, I made the personal decision to record the video. I wasn’t forced. I didn’t do it to save my job or anyone else’s. I did it because I do sincerely believe in what we do every day at KOMO as local journalists.”
So what’s something I can do to make sure I’m receiving news I trust?
It’s on news organizations to earn our trust, and it’s in their best interest to hear us out when they’re failing at that. But for starters, trust your gut. If something seems off, don’t be afraid to speak up and push for journalists to help you understand how they do that very public work. Need inspiration? Here’s a great example of an Ohio TV news station that’s owned by another broadcasting company, E.W. Scripps, being transparent about their values with their community.
Have any other questions about what’s going on with Sinclair? Or questions for The Evergrey about how we do what we do? Hit reply or email us at [email protected].
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Staying home. So there’s this artist you should know about — Inye Wokoma. He’s a filmmaker and photographer, and he remembers when about 60 members of his family all lived close together in the Central District. Today, most of them are gone, pushed out by gentrification that’s turned a neighborhood that was 70 percent black 40 years ago into one that’s just 20 percent black today.
“The Central District is a place whose geography is familiar, but whose people and features are increasingly strange and unrelated to who I am,” Inye wrote in “An Elegant Utility,” a show he did at the Northwest African American Museum last year. Today, he’s hanging on to the duplex that his grandfather, Franklin Green, bought back in 1947. It’s the last of the 11 houses his family once owned here. And he’s not selling. This story on Inye sums up some pretty critical trends in our city. Check it out. (Crosscut & Seattle Magazine)
Name change? They’re calling it “congestion pricing” — the idea our mayor’s pushing to add tolls to a bunch of downtown streets so we can cut back on traffic. But the money from those tolls would go to boosting buses and other ways to get around, so … could it be called “decongestion pricing” instead? That’s what one transit consultant is suggesting, anyway. ‘Cause otherwise, (just like that “death tax”), “congestion” (ew!) “pricing” (ew!) gets real hard for its fans to sell. (KUOW)
It’s all right here. If you live without a home in Seattle, it can be real tough to figure out how to get help. Seventy-seven organizations serve our homeless neighbors in King County, and no one’s made one big, accessible guide to what they do — until now. Real Change, the Seattle newspaper that serves communities on the street, just published “The Emerald City Resource Guide,” a 132-page pocket manual to navigating some key local services when you most need ‘em. The paper’s handing out tens of thousands of copies around the city this week, and that’s pretty awesome. (Real Change / The Seattle Times)
Mmm White Center. It’s not a Seattle neighborhood. It’s not technically its own city. But White Center, the unincorporated suburb just south of West Seattle, has a rich history and the food to prove it. Here are 10 no-nonsense restaurants making a mark on the historically working-class area, like the greasy Boss Drive-In and the zesty Proletariat Pizza. (Eater Seattle)
💻👩 April 23-27: Connect with inspiring mentors, peers, and resources at the weeklong Women in Tech Regatta (South Lake Union)
⚡ Join a citywide pillow fight! (Capitol Hill)
🍻 Say happy birthday to Chuck’s Hop Shop (Greenwood)
🏞 Go for a Brunch Run (Sand Point)
🍴 Join the Duwamish tribe’s Princess Angeline Tea Party (West Seattle)
🎈Watch the beautiful Daffodil Parade (Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting)
Going to one of these? Send us a pic or tag #theevergrey. See more upcoming events (and submit your own) on our events page.
Those are some of the words a lot of you are using to sum up how the state of the news in America has got you feeling. We’ll be closing submissions at 2 p.m. today, so don’t forget to take this three-question survey and pass it around. We’ll share out some of your responses next week, and our survey partner, Seattle CityClub, will give each of three lucky respondents a $150 pair of tickets to their June 27 event, “Truth, Trust, and Democracy,” plus an invite to be featured in a video they’ll show before three national news leaders take the stage.
We’ll see you next week. — The Evergrey