Trump, Sinclair Broadcasting, and the dangerous power of media conglomerates
Media conglomerates may cause the death of local news. How will this affect America?
April 16, 2018
Now I’m sure many readers are wondering what the quote from above is. Many have probably heard of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s supposedly controversial message, which some pundits are calling dangerous to our democracy. The quote above is the entire message that Sinclair Broadcasting Group played across their local news stations. That’s it. There’s no evil Trump plot, no alt-right fake news frenzy, and certainly no “two minutes hate” akin to George Orwell.
However, let’s acknowledge some facts. Sinclair Broadcasting Group is run by Conservatives and Republicans, and Trump has certainly taken a liking to them. Conservatism and GOP politics are beliefs that a lot of us disagree with at Blake. However, in my experience, there’s no problem with that. While we may not agree with their politics, our community is mostly open to reading the other side’s work and listening to their arguments. The problem lies in Trump’s public support of them. When the president tweets “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke,” he is not helping the problem. When Trump does this, a lot of people like to immediately attack what he praises. Honestly, this response isn’t totally ill-founded. Calling full media outlets “fake” will clearly cause the mainstream media to become frustrated, perpetuating the ongoing fight between them and Trump. The president should know this, and a White House-mainstream media slapfest helps nobody.
That being said, none of this should surprise anybody. Trump was elected because many Americans wanted to slap back at the political left and even mainstream conservatives. We all know the problems with Trump’s twitter. What’s wrong here is the demonization of Sinclair. Although it is not necessarily right for broadcasting groups to tell local news what to do, it’s a fact of reality. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 25% of local news doesn’t originate from that local news station. This is the reality we live in, and we can’t pretend this is the only time media conglomerates do this practice.
The message itself should not be a partisan message; truth is in fact “Neither left or right.” Nothing in the message even mentions Trump. You can disagree with the shady practices of media conglomerates, and hate the slow suffocation of local news. These practices are in fact antithetical to the journalism. Sinclair’s supposed “Two minutes hate” are a product of business practices, not Trumpian plots.
That being said, it is alarming to see the domination of local news stations by larger media conglomerates like Sinclair. The profiteering of news deprives journalism’s ability to give voices to the weak. If larger companies continue to buy up smaller news networks, America will lose local news altogether. That is a very bad direction for American to head in.
The biggest problem with large companies buying up local news networks is that very few people will wield massive amounts of power, which could be used to further ulterior motives by withholding information. Large amounts of power always lead to corruption; is this a direction we want the United States to head in? As previously stated, media conglomerates are truly antithetical to the idea of journalism. Journalism’s purpose is to give a voice to the individual. Large media conglomerates will give their voices to only a few, shoving aside the personal liberty for Big Brother.
Not only would large companies reach an oligopoly of local news control, these same companies are more likely to be corrupt. Small news stations and newspapers are more free to be critical of government and propose new and controversial ideas without as much scrutiny. Our own American Revolution was fueled by local press. Losing local news would be a huge loss to founding ideals.