Fake news is a problem that has plagued the world. While in India the government is taking steps to tackle what they identify as fake news, a similar battle is being fought on all fronts, worldwide – including on behalf of the media as well as the populace and other social media networks. In the US, where Fake News and concerns over the phenomenon have been gaining traction ever since 2016’s presidential election, news anchors from the various stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group have come together to read out a scripted plea and pledge against Fake News in unison.
Sinclair Broadcast Group reportedly owns about 200 TV stations across the US, and has often come under the fire for its pro-Donald Trump news coverage, through their various local news reports. Timothy Burke, the video director at the sports website Deadspin, stitched together the promotional campaign script read out by the many anchors, as what Vox says has been internally called an “anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message”.
Burke quotes CNN’s Brian Stelter‘s piece on how Sinclair was “forcing its news anchors to record a promo about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.” He tweeted out the video, saying, “How America’s largest local TV owner turned its news anchors into soldiers in Trump’s war on the media”.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018
According to ThinkProgress, the anchors say, “we are concerned about the troubling trend of one-sided, irresponsible news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, is some media outlets publish same fake stories without checking facts first.” They go on to say that some media persons “use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda”, and that “this is extremely dangerous to our democracy”.
The 1.39-minute clip has been widely shared, liked, retweeted and debated on social media by not only members of the media community but others as well. While some people claimed that the entire newsroom “should walk out”, another said, “Let them corrupt local TV news with mindless conservative conspiracies.” However, US President Trump was unsurprisingly appreciative. He tweeted, “So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”
Well, in an era of so much news, the attempt to discriminate between what’s fake and what’s real investigative reporting is getting harder – at least that is something we can all collectively agree upon.