I’m one of those current and former media folk whose guts are churning about the massive attack on our free press - and society as a whole - by Sinclair Broadcasting. It’s something like a “journalistic Pearl Harbor” for this country and Sinclair ain’t the good guy.
The background, of course, and the source of my angst, is Sinclair forcing more than 100 TV stations it owns or operates to broadcast handout video and scripted propaganda favorable to the Trump presidency while demeaning legitimate news sources. News anchors are handed “speeches” to read each night and newscasts are to include videos of corporate “spokesmen” offering a Trump-supporting diatribe of phony “news.”
It’s something everyone should be aware of. If we had a more responsible Congress, we could reasonably expect legislative action to end this travesty. Unfortunately, most people seem unfazed by this attack on free speech. And our Congress continues to suffer “mental erectile dysfunction” caused by an overabundance of campaign dollars.
The issues at stake are self-evident and need no further discussion. But, judging from their nearly unanimous reaction, most of the would-be reporters and staff at Sinclair seem to have a personal case of self-pity.
We’re hearing a lot of ‘em claim they feel tied to contracts signed in better days when they were looking for that professional “pot-of-gold.” “The ticket to fame and riches.” Now, they’re using those documents to say they can’t quit Sinclair because “they’d be sued” or they can’t leave because “they have young families.”
Take it from someone who’s been there. Leaving Sinclair now is likely the best possible move you can make for a better career future. It also might be the best tonic right now to help you be that professional you think you are.
A wise and thoughtful friend wrote something the other day, giving me a different perspective. Forget Sinclair. Think, instead, of the thousands of teachers marching for better pay and improved state support for children and the necessary equipment and materials to do their jobs. Some of their administrators threatened to fire them if they marched. But, march they are. They, too, have young families to support and student loans to pay off. But, they’re marching.
And the kids. Some of those same school districts threatened to give them failing grades and other punishments if they marched. But, hundreds of thousands are out there. At a time when a failing grade on a transcript could cost them badly when trying to get into college, they made the decision that enough students had been murdered with uncontrolled automatic weapons.
At eight score years, I’ve had many periods of employment and unemployment. I’ve signed contracts. I’ve broken a few. And a few were broken for me. I’ve walked away from incomes when such things as a court-ordered child support order had to be kept current - income or no. I’ve made professional and personal choices and lived with the consequences.
I only say those things to make this point. To the Sinclair people who think they’re captives and can’t possibly do the responsible thing, “Yes, you CAN!” And some of your brothers and sisters are doing just that.
The vast majority of reporters, editors and other news professionals alive today are in your corner. They’re “mad as Hell,” too. Like me, most of them have been around and around the block. But, you’re the only ones who can take the right step this time. Now, it’s your turn. You’ve got thousands and thousands of shoulders to stand on.
But, if you persist in the pity-party, here’s something else to consider. The longer you stay with an employer nearly all your fellow professionals despise, the more time with Sinclair will show on future job applications. If you show it, that time will be an impediment that could result in a rejection. If you leave that space vacant, they’ll ask. Either way, staying with Sinclair will be a cancer on your career.
We’re cursed with a current political situation in which those who could take responsible action, and do what must be done to defang Sinclair, won’t act. They’ll walk on hot coals through Hell for the Second Amendment but won’t take one step to protect the First.
It’s up to you. What’s your career worth?