In case you missed it, a video was recently disseminated showing dozens of newscasters and anchors at stations across the country delivering the exact same canned message about the dangers of fake news. (note: you may not be able to see this if you do not have a facebook account).
This video created an online firestorm, with many anchors being bashed for their role in delivering the message. While it’s unfortunate that so many acquiesced, it’s easy to criticize when you, yourself are not in the situation of needing a job to pay bills and support your family.
At face value, the message may even sound reasonable: beware of fake news. Beware of those spreading fake news to advance their own agendas.
The problem is that this message was propagated by Sinclair Media, an enormous media conglomerate who, in many cases, coerced their representatives at almost 200 stations into saying it at the risk of losing their jobs.
The second problem is that Sinclair, as the country’s largest broadcaster with 193 stations, is poised to acquire another 42 stations* if approved by a Republican-leaning FCC. The words spoken by these broadcasters ring false: they could have tumbled directly from Donald Trump’s mouth or twitter stream, in his effort to discount media sources with which he disagrees. In fact, it is downright scary that such propaganda can be delivered so broadly to advance the agenda of corporate media or politics. Borrowing words from the message itself, such power is downright “dangerous to our democracy.”
Meanwhile, across the U.S., many communities are closing the doors on public media options by eliminating funding that gives a voice and training to many, especially the under-served and/or underrepresented.
The importance of community media cannot be overstated. As some publications and media organizations downsize and others are bought out by large conglomerates whose interest is making money for owners and shareholders, media messages harmonize to a Stepford mentality or propaganda state. There is little room for those who march to a different drum.
Community media encourages creative thought, diverse perspectives and a focus on all things local. It disseminates alternative views. Community media builds community and democracy, and it gives a voice to all who choose to wield it. One of its most important functions is to engage residents, volunteers and employees who have the best interests of their community at heart.
*For more on this, read David Andreatta’s article: News anchors Doug Emblidge, Norma Holland held hostage by Sinclair Broadcast
The above editorial was written by Carol White Llewellyn, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of RCTV Members, Staff or Board of Directors.