Combining broadcast, Internet and social media technologies, a new news segment, Connect to Congress, offers Sinclair’s local market viewers “new ways to get answers to questions from their members of Congress.
Sinclair Broadcast Group on Wednesday introduced a news segment called Connect to Congress, a multimedia initiative that lets members of Congress in Sinclair news markets communicate with their constituents on a regular basis. Combining broadcast, Internet and social media technologies, Connect to Congress offers Sinclair’s local market viewers “new ways to get answers to questions about what matters most to them at home,” according to the company.
Connect to Congress was created by Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s VP of news, who is using Sinclair’s presence in Washington, through its acquisition of ABC affiliate WJLA last year, to create what the company calls “a more regular dialogue” between viewers in local markets nationwide and their members of Congress.
The first step in this plan was establishing a national bureau on Capitol Hill. “When Congress is in session, we have cameras set up weekly in the Rotunda, connected via remote to our local stations. Local anchors conduct the interviews about the key issues constituents and lawmakers are passionate about and not just topics that everyone else is covering,” said Colleen Wordock, Sinclair’s Capitol Hill bureau chief.
“For many years, national cable news channels have been viewed as the prime media outlet for Members of Congress,” said Livingston. “Not only are a select few members ever invited onto those channels, but the audiences on those channels are a small fraction of our local newscast audiences.”
And the ratings bear that out, Sinclair says. According to Nielsen data, Sinclair’s audiences during local newscasts exceed those of cable news by orders of magnitude during the same periods, often four times the audience of the top cable news channels, and often over 100 times that of the niche cable news channels.
“When members see this data, they are floored and realize that they need to be on local broadcast TV more often. Instead of making Members come to our stations when they are in-district, we are bringing our local TV stations to them in D.C.,” Livingston said. “That is what Connect to Congress is all about.”
Livingston continued: “Everyone has a right to know what their elected officials are doing in Washington. Connect to Congress is just one example of the investments we are making in our D.C. news operations. “We are making investments in technology and other capital expenditures in order to link our stations to Washington, especially our small market and rural stations, and we are committed to ensuring that the Sinclair network offers the hundreds of members in our news markets their own media voice in their own home districts.”