Diana Marszalek in TVNewsCheck reports that “ever since Sinclair Broadcast Group announced it was buying Allbritton Communications in July 2013, employees at the group’s flagship WJLA Washington and the companion NewsChannel 8 cable news network have been an unhappy lot.”
According to Marszalek,
“In addition to the normal angst about fitting into the new owner’s plans, sources close to the station say, many staffers have been concerned about Sinclair’s reputation for mixing news with sales and with the conservative politics of Sinclair CEO David Smith.
“The unrest has triggered an exodus of at least three dozen staffers that has continued since Sinclair took over the station in August, according to sources. People “are frightened,” a new phenomenon in a newsroom known for being “safe and stable” in its Allbritton days, one source says.
“But Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s VP of news, says reports of newsroom unrest are overblown.
“He says that while Sinclair has had to make some “tough decisions” — and acknowledges that there is a certain anxiety that comes with any change of ownership — newsroom fears are being exaggerated.
“He says he had not been keeping score of comings and goings prior to Sinclair’s actual takeover in August and that since then only eight have left.
“The eight includes the three top managers — General Manager Bill Lord, News Director Doug Culver and Managing Editor Dan Patrick — who were fired as the group moved to impose its own news strategy on the operation, Livingston says.”