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Episode 5: What’s in the Sinclair Broadcasting Box?

A perverted sex act in a company-owned Mercedes, and a shriveled local media ecosystem. Heather and Emily are joined by Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan and Texas Tribune founder John Thornton to unpack the tricky problem of how to save local news from bankruptcy and bias.

 

Reading list:

  • Not Necessarily the News — A 2005 GQ article on Sinclair’s news takeover.
  • Big Media Companies and their Many Brands—In One Chart — A 2016 NPR visualization on media consolidation. Right now, the vast majority of media brands are owned by the “Big 6:” National Amusements (aka Viacom), Disney, TimeWarner, Comcast, News Corp, and Sony.
  • America’s Growing News Deserts — An recent interactive from the Columbia Journalism Review.

    Local news audience statistics (Source):

    37 percent of Americans say they frequently rely on local TV for news. Compare to:

    • 45 percent of Americans who say they get news from Facebook
    • 33 percent who say they look at news websites and apps
    • 28 percent who watch cable news
    • 26 percent who watch national nightly news
    • 18 percent who still read print newspapers

    Recent examples of problematic corporate takeover of local media:

      • Sinclair Broadcast Group — The company purchased Tribune Media Company last May, giving it access to about 72% of American households.
      • LA Weekly — A shadow entity bought the magazine last fall, and then fired most of its writing staff.
      • Time, Inc. — Meredith Corporation purchased the company in November, thanks to an infusion of cash from Koch Industries.
      • Digital First Media — The second-largest newspaper chain in the country is the owned by Alden Global Capital, a shadowy New York hedge fund.
      • And, of course, the “Bezos Washington Post.”