From March 23-30, local Sinclair Broadcast Station-owned KUTV Channel 2 ran a scripted promotion 19 times discussing “fake news” and the “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” according to an Alliance for a Better Utah study.
The promotion aired during news segments and reached a combined viewership of 795,227 people, according to ABU. Some of the claims in the promotion included statements such as: “Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.”
With a growing distrust in news across the nation, and as criticism over the “must-run” segments rises, how can readers know what content produced by news companies is vetted through publishers or corporations?
Standard-Examiner Executive Editor Greg Halling and Publisher Brandon Erlacher provided some insights.
“We are a privately-held company, and our ownership has made sure that we have local leadership that is dealing with local issues and they make decisions on a local basis,” Erlacher said. “There is a little bit of separation of church and state here, and to be frank, my office from the publisher’s seat does not come down to the newsroom to dictate what we’re going to run or report on from the news standpoint. I do sit on the editorial board and have a voice, but it is part of a larger group of people, and we make decisions based upon local issues and things that are facing the newspaper.”
Halling explained the purpose of a local newspaper is to focus on issues affecting the community, whether the topics are positive or negative.
“We cover the community in response to the community’s needs, so our reporters, our journalists, are out in the community every day talking to people,” Halling said. “They’re basically identifying news stories based on those relationships — based upon our connection with the community — and then they’re pursuing the stories that are necessary. We want to do good journalism, certainly. We want to make sure the stories are fair, and they’re accurately reported, that they’re presented with context.”
Erlacher has never asked to have a story removed based on any business consideration, Halling added.
“We play news down the middle,” Halling said. “We treat it as the entity that it is, and so no one is telling us what to write. There is an unspoken rule in publishing, though, in the newspaper business: that is don’t surprise the publisher. So when there is a big story am I going to tell Brandon that, ‘Oh, hey. We just discovered that there were, like, four people who didn’t show up as in-custody deaths in Davis County last year, and you might want to know that because it’s our Sunday centerpiece?’ Yeah, I’m going to tell him that. But typically, I mean, it’s just a matter of informing the publisher.”
Read the entire article by Casie Forbes with The Standard Examiner here.