WJLA's 'Slight' Right Shift

This would probably surprise no one, but it did not take Sinclair long to put its stamp on the centerpiece of its Allbritton acquistion, WJLA, reports the Washington Post.

Gone are GM Bill Lord, VP of news Doug Culver and, most recently, managing editor Dan Patrick.

Mark Hyman, a longtime presenter of pointed commentary on Sinclair stations, is delivering his commentaries on WJLA. The ABC affiliate has partnered with the conservative Washington Times, and Sinclair's Washington bureau stories “offer perspectives primarily from conservative think tanks,” says the paper.

The “must-run” stories railing against government waste may not fly in Washington, say some. “You can’t run a TV station in Washington by telling government workers that they’re a bunch of criminals and crooks,” said one WJLA reporter. “You can’t be the anti-government channel in Washington. They’re going to lose the trust they built up with people over years and years. We’ve told people, ‘We’re just like you,’ not, ‘We’re looking out for the tea party.’”

Sinclair did not comment to the Post.

Furthermore, several employees noted that David Smith, president and CEO, said the newsroom “works for” ad sales in an introductory staff meeting.

Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi gives two examples where the news department reported stories with questionable news merit that featured advertisers in a positive light.

Said Craig Aaron, president of the watchdog group Free Press:

“They have developed a reputation over a long number of years of pushing their stations to air news framed by a conservative worldview. They have a way of [presenting] the news so that Republicans will like it a lot better than Democrats.Craig Aaron. ... When a company is as big as they are at a local level, it’s a cause for concern.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.