I stand a good chance of stepping on the toes of many people who I consider friends.
We live in a country that is vastly more politically polarized than it was twenty-years ago. Nowhere is this more evident than in the national media, especially on the various cable news outlets. Many of these national news and information outlets still carry a pretty good news product, but much of their airtime is filled with opinionated talk shows
Maybe I am naïve, but I think viewers should be totally ignorant of the anchors and reporters political leanings. I think viewers should expect it and I think they deserve it. National news has been straying into biased territory for a long while, but I always thought local news outlets were a little more mindful of staying in neutral territory.
When I worked in television, I cringed when I saw political bumper stickers on the vehicles in the TV station parking lot. Even if they are on the cars of non-on-air employees, I believe it sends a bad message to the public who trusts you for unbiased news reporting.
However, I think we have a bigger problem than a bumper sticker on a car in the parking lot that is creeping in at the local television news level. That problem is the use of social media outlets by employees of local media outlets and the inability to keep quiet about some things. And by “some things”, I mean biased political posts on Facebook and Twitter from local journalists and station employees.
Actual post from an employee of a local news outlet in Florida who had been at the Republican National Convention: (name withheld) – “juuuuust about finished washing all of the Republican off of me…” Is that the message you want to send to your viewers?
I am not going to out any of my friends here in the Little Rock television market, but some of the political comments I have seen the past few days are really on the edge of what I would expect from anyone who calls themselves a journalist.
And I don’t just mean the on-air people. Everyone from the salespeople and producers and operations folks should be mindful about your station’s image and reputation.
Yes, you have the right as an American to say whatever you want to say, but you have a responsibility to the public to uphold as well.