College Park (2/13/18) — Richard Eaton Chair of Broadcast Journalism Mark Feldstein says the Sinclair Broadcast Group is putting its news directors in a tough spot by sending them a political fundraising solicitation.
Sinclair, the largest television station owner in the United States, recently sent a memo to some newsroom managers asking them to contribute to the company’s political action committee. The company is fighting to retain a new Federal Communications Commission rule that allows large media companies to buy more stations.
Feldstein, who teaches at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, told The Washington Post that the company is putting its employees in a difficult position. Traditionally, news organizations prohibit journalists from contributing to political entities to avoid the appearance of favoritism.
In addition to the ethical problem, Feldstein said, employees may fear retribution for not contributing to the PAC — even though the company has publicly stated it would not penalize employees who choose not to contribute.
Feldstein spent twenty years as an award-winning on-air investigative correspondent at CNN, ABC News, and various local television stations. He is the winner of more than 50 journalism awards, including two George Foster Peabody medallions, the Columbia-DuPont baton, the national Edward R. Murrow broadcasting prize and nine regional Emmys.
As a scholar, Feldstein has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals. His book “Poisoning the Press” received widespread critical acclaim and earned top academic awards for research.