Is Local News Local Anymore?


Written by James Saturno|

Most of us consider local news to be an informational oasis impervious to the large-scale political agendas that so often permeate network news coverage. However, for 192 stations, 611 channels, and 89 US markets, that might not be the case.

Sinclair coverage map via Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Broadcast Group, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, is a news media conglomerate that has gained an infamous notoriety over the past few years.

It’s not unusual for a media conglomerate to manage a large amount of small-scale stations. What is unusual, is for that conglomerate to insert its own far-right agenda in between your local weather and sports.

What separates Sinclair from their fellow media giants is their strategic implementation of so-called “must runs”. These “must runs” are news segments produced in-house by Sinclair, and then distributed to their subsidiaries nationwide.

Some of the most notable must-runs include the “Terrorism Alert Desk”, various right-leaning scripts, and “The Bottom Line with Boris”, which is hosted by a former Trump campaign official.

Additionally, Sinclair has come under fire for airing far-right ads with unsubstantiated information on all of their stations. One such advertisement claimed that President Obama’s campaign was funded by the terrorist group Hamas.

The difference between this insertion of far-right politics into the local news and the distribution of network content like Fox News is that when people tune into Fox News they know they’re getting the news through a certain lens. When people get this sometimes harmful misinformation from their trusted local news anchors, they’re less likely to question the content.

This issue was brought to the fore twice in recent months in a segment of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and a video that showed hundreds of local news anchors reading the same right-leaning script to their respective audiences across the country.

It’s important that we, as consumers of news, know where our information is coming from and are conscious of biases that our trusted news outlets may have.