RTDNA Weighs In On Sinclair Flap, Kind Of

The journalism organization does not directly address the Sinclair flap, saying only that “many questions about been raised recently about the degree to which the news … is truly local and truly independent.”

RTDNA took a cautious step into the Sinclair news promo controversy, issuing a press release today noting that “editorial independence is an essential guiding principle for all journalists.”

The release does not directly address the Sinclair flap, saying only that “many questions about been raised recently about the degree to which the news … is truly local and truly independent.”

It then tries to answer the questions by providing a link to the association’s 2015 Code of Ethics.

Among other things, the code says: “Editorial independence may be a more ambitious goal today than ever before. Media companies, even if not-for-profit, have commercial, competitive and other interests — both internal and external — from which the journalists they employ cannot be entirely shielded. Still, independence from influences that conflict with public interest remains an essential ideal of journalism. Transparency provides the public with the means to assess credibility and to determine who deserves trust.”

RTDNA leaves it to others to decide whether Sinclair or its anchors violated the code.

“RTDNA respects the right of businesses to operate as they see fit, within the law and in accordance with accepted ethical values. In case of controversy, we encourage the public never to lose sight of the important work done daily by local journalists who are employed by many companies but ultimately report to the people who live in the communities they serve.

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RTDNA’s advice to those who feel that Sinclair was out of line is to complain to the station group and turn to other news sources.

“Media companies manage their enterprises in a variety of ways, according to their best judgment. When that judgment conflicts with the values of viewers, listeners and readers, those audiences have effective ways of making their feelings known. RTDNA urges viewers, listeners and readers to get their information from a variety of sources so they can determine which of those sources they trust.”


Comments (2)

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Peter Wharton says:

April 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

As a long-time member, officer and from 2011 to 2017 the organization’s Executive Director, I am disappointed RTDNA did not go further in its position on this issue, as other journalism groups like SPJ and NAHJ did. This is a significant issue involving journalism and democracy and, I think, was deserving of a more definitive statement from the nation’s largest professional association representing broadcast and digital journalists.

    John Livingston says:

    April 4, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    I think RTDNA made a good statement being middle of the road unlike SPJ & others that have made statements about Sinclair which was their bias getting in the way and not middle of the road like RTDNA.


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