What Is So Wrong About the Sinclair Broadcasting Script?

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“They co-opt the credibility that local anchors have built up in their communities over years and decades and use that credibility to promote a political agenda.” — Aaron Weiss, former Sinclair News Director

Covering the Sinclair Broadcasting story over the past two blogs,  (Has Big Brother Arrived at a TV Set in Your Home? and How Much Do I Hate Thee Sinclair Broadcasting? America Is Counting the Ways) I have interjected facts and opinions from my point of view because I feel this strikes to the core of Freedom of the Press. Take away the press, both conservative and liberal sides, and you remove the watchdogs of those who would govern by fear and dishonesty.

Today, let’s hear from Aaron Weiss who’s “been there, done that” for Sinclair, as well Tim Burke who put that frightening video collage together and what he has heard since from the “Sinclair hostages.”

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/04/04/aaron-weiss-intv-sinclair-news-director-must-read-scripts-hostage-videos-sot-newday.cnn/video/playlists/sinclair-broadcast-group/

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/04/04/aaron-weiss-intv-former-sinclair-news-director-not-heard-inside-respect-journalism-sot-newday.cnn

https://www.cnn.com/videos/cnnmoney/2018/04/03/deadspin-sinclair-broadcast-group-video-tim-burke-ebof.cnn/video/playlists/stories-worth-watching/

Having heard all this, I suggest you return to the Deadspin video. Focus beyond the words and look at the announcers, their voices, and their mannerisms. Feel sorry for them. They are being mentally abused and should be pitied.

One last thought. Be you conservative or liberal, money talks. Too bad someone just doesn’t make a better offer to Tribune’s owners and buy it out from under Sinclair. A non-media company. Sinclair will still operate the stations it has, but it would be derailed of its aggressive assault on Freedom of the Press.

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How Much Do I Hate Thee Sinclair Broadcasting? America Is Counting the Ways

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By this point most people in the USA know about the Sinclair Broadcasting manifesto to force all its local affiliates, partnerships, holdings etc. to not just toe the company line but to do it at the expense of local communities. If you don’t here is link to my last blog with info and the offending video.

A great deal has happened since my blog posted. But since it is nearly 1am and I have to be up at 5am, let me just point to two interesting items.

My suggestion was to activate a 1.0 world solution, to challenge Sinclair stations one by one as the license renewals came up.

The 2.0 world is to get on Twitter, create a hashtag of #SinclairStrike and motivate people to act on May 15th 2018 (thanks to Ed Krassenstein @EdKrassen)

Mark your calendars!
May 15th, 2018 is the #SinclairStrike.

  • Sinclair Broadcasting Employees call out sick
  • Sinclair viewers boycott the network
  • Sinclair advertisers pull their ads by this date

And while #2 and #3 started happening immediately, I didn’t think much would come of asking employees who had buckled under to do these-called “hostage videos” to call out sick. 

Sinclair TwitterBut then there was a tweet from one of the stations that gave me hope that there were still warriors on the front line of this battle.

The other interesting thing was when out of left field Preet Bharara (Former US Atty SDNY) suggests in a Tweet that Jeff Bezos of Amazon just flat out buy Twitter “with the change in his pocket and shut Trump’s account.”  Interesting, but what does that have to do with Sinclair?

Other voices soon urged Bezos (who has been feuding with Trump over the Amazon and Washington Post connections) to either buy Sinclair Broadcasting – or buy the Tribune stations away from Sinclair. Again, it is 1am and I can only imagine without checking, the logistics of Amazon buying up a monstrous amount of local tv stations.

But the point is, people are not siting back and waiting for someone else to protect the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. To quote Mr. Bharara “Citizens working together are more powerful than US Attorneys. And presidents.”

{Update at 5:30am, finding the Sinclair issue has been cooking overnight, it is a Twitter moment now. https://twitter.com/i/moments/980985089109590016}

 

Has Big Brother Arrived at a TV Set in Your Home?

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Expecting to enjoy a pleasant Easter Sunday meal with family later in the day, I was served a gut-wrenching, distasteful appetizer of things to come when I checked my Twitter account this morning and found the now well-publicized Sinclair promo story.

At the outset, let me say I am politically an independent. Been so since I first signed up to vote over 40 years ago. Would have voted for JFK. Did vote for Reagan. I vote the party that speaks to the needs of the nation as I see it. OK?

So, I don’t give a damn if Sinclair is ultra-right or ultra-left. My concern is the humiliation and bastardization of local news by these barbarians at the gate of journalism.

Local stations should be free to cover and broadcast news and issues by and for the local community.

Right thinking will be rewarded, wrong thinking punished – George Orwell
Resistance is futile – The Borg
Corporate infringement on local journalism – apparent Sinclair manifesto 

James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, wrote: “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both.” He felt a free press was an essential part of a democratic society— that it enabled people to make informed choices.

Seems to have worked over the past 240 years.

Now Sinclair wants to create a Hive Mind.  Resistance is futile.

Or is it?

TV stations operate pursuant to broadcasting licenses granted by the FCC. This means individual stations are subject to renewal process with the FCC. When renewal applications (FCC Form 303-S) are pending, petitions to deny license renewals can be filed by interested parties in the community.

These renewal applications are due on a staggered basis, depending upon the state in which the station is licensed.  Before the FCC can renew a station’s license, it must first determine whether the licensee has served the public interest during the preceding license term.

This is how Sinclair was described last year during its move to gobble up Tribune Media (from Docket Number: MB Docket 17-179, FCC)

Pursuant to a merger agreement, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Sinclair) and Tribune Media Company (Tribute) have filed applications seeking Commission consent to transfer control of Tribune’s full-power broadcast televisions stations, low-power television stations, and TV translator stations to Sinclair.
According to the Applicants, Sinclair owns or operates 173 broadcast television stations, consisting of 528 channels, in 81 markets, with affiliations with all major networks, and is the largest local news provider in the country; Tribune owns or operates 42 broadcast television stations in 33 markets, also with affiliations with all major networks. Tribune also owns cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV and WGN-Radio.
According to the Applicants, Tribune’s owns and operates broadcast television stations in the top three markets in the country, seven stations in the top ten markets, and 34 stations in the top 50 markets.
The Applicants claim that under the proposed transaction, the combined company would reach 72 percent of U.S. television households and would own and operate the largest number of broadcast television stations of any station group.

Being force fed a “Right thinking will be rewarded, wrong thinking punished” political ideology upon a supposedly objective news team is contradictory to the tenants of an unfettered press and the needs of a local community to make informed choices.

Do you have a Sinclair outlet in your community? Here is a list.

 

 

 

Facebook Is in Hot Water; Cambridge Analytica Mess Boiling Over into Law Suit

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I take no pleasure in bashing Facebook. Personally, never had any use for it; always considered it a giant frat party. But saw its value for other people. Unfortunately, in today’s society when leaders enable mediocrity in themselves and their staff, we, the end users suffer. I don’t intend to talk about FB in every blog, but it is news right now. Point in fact, here is a press release from this morning, with reaction to the current Facebook/ Cambridge Analytica mess from Illinois, the Land of Lincoln (speaking of leaders…)

Lincoln

Illinois State’s Attorney Foxx Files Lawsuit Against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

March 26, 2018

Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx today announced that her office has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) and SCL Group Limited and Cambridge Analytica LLC (“Cambridge Analytica”) over Cambridge Analytica’s improper harvesting of Facebook user data and Facebook’s failure to adequately protect that data. This resulted in the exploitation of personal data of 50 million Facebook users with the express purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election.

State’s Attorney Foxx, on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois, filed the complaint in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The complaint raises claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

“Cambridge Analytic deliberately misled Facebook users so it could build psychological profiles of the user and their friends, and Facebook did not stop it,” said State’s Attorney Foxx. “This blatant deception violated Illinois law and more importantly violated the privacy of Illinois residents. Cambridge Analytica and Facebook must be held accountable for their actions.”

The suit alleges Cambridge Analytica used fraudulent and deceptive practices to gain information about 50 million Facebook users by mining – without users’ knowledge – information about every Facebook “friend” of people who took an online “personality quiz.” This improperly obtained data was used to create “psychographic profiles” on millions of American voters, with the purpose of influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

The suit further alleges that Facebook engaged in deceptive practices by maintaining formal polices and representing to the public that strict limitations and protocols on data gathering were in place, while knowingly allowing app developers, including Cambridge Analytica, to accumulate and mine data vastly in excess of those policies.

Upon learning of Cambridge Analytica’s actions, Facebook failed to take adequate corrective action or disclose the violation of its privacy policies to consumers. Its response was limited to a single private request to Cambridge Analytica to delete the data. Facebook took no further action, nor did they notify the “friends” whose data was accessed, until the public revelation of the breach in the media, at which point it finally and for the first time suspended Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook account.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and fines under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

The People are seeking representation by the outside law firm Edelson PC in this litigation.  Edelson would work on a contingency basis and its fees will be paid from any recovery generated by this lawsuit.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

Ouch Facebook. I don’t think you will be getting any likes on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois” I also have read that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating FB privacy practices.

This is What Mark Zuckerberg Had to Say to the World

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FB data

Facebook has been in the news a great deal this week, so much so that I found myself writing blogs two days in a row. And now in this third day, I will give it up to Zuck himself. The guiding mind of Facebook made the rounds of talk shows and interview tables to shed some behind the scenes looks at how the-powers-that-be at FB came upon and addressed the recent data theft (mis-use?) by 3rd parties.

You may have seen some of the sound bites on TV or heard on radio. Or read in the media. Here is a transcript of a 20-minute interview, which was conducted by Kara Swisher and Kurt Wagner of Recode. (Thank you Recode!) See for yourself if you are satisfied with Facebook’s response.

Swisher gets quickly to what I think is the point of all this, that these geniuses at Facebook wanted to play in the real world but didn’t expect the bad guys to target them. She brings up the idealistic theme at Facebook.

KS: Open and sharing, and it was helpful to growing your platform, obviously. What’s in the mentality of your engineers of Facebook where you didn’t suspect this could be a problem?

Zuckerberg deflected that the engineers were solely at fault.

MZ: You know, frankly, I just got that wrong. I was maybe too idealistic on the side of data portability, that it would create more good experiences. And it created some, but I think what the clear feedback was from our community was that people value privacy a lot more. And they would rather have their data locked down and be sure that nothing bad will ever happen to it than be able to easily take it and have social experiences in other places.

KS: I get that. 2014 you absolutely did that. But I’m talking about the … You know — and I’ve argued with [Facebook executives] about this — this anticipation of problems, of possible bad actors on this platform. Do you all have enough mentality, or do you not see … I want to understand what happens within Facebook that you don’t see that this is so subject to abuse. How do you think about that, and what is your responsibility?

MZ: Yeah. Well, I hope we’re getting there. I think we remain idealistic, but I think also understand what our responsibility is to protect people now.

Do you feel safer now? I don’t. Read the entire interview and decide for yourself.

Peter Parker/Spiderman said it best (well, Stan Lee…): With great power comes great responsibility.

I think Facebook continued to think of this all still being a giant frat party. Time to grow up boys. Some bullies outsmarted you and took away your lunch money. The whole world is watching how you handle this.

This Is What You Can Do to Make Yourself Feel Safer on Facebook

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The Quick and the Dead

Facebook is something to be scared of (paraphrasing the “Those men are something to be scared of” scene from a really great little movie called The Quick & the Dead). Unless you have been living out on the prairie, you are aware that data mining as conducted by Facebook is now being attacked from all quarters. What was supposed to bring us closer together has in fact blown us apart.

Our “contract” with Facebook to do no harm with our personal data has been torn to shreds as we have found breaches (let’s not play semantics FB management) and outright sale of data to questionable 3rd parties who have used “likes,” “wants,” and even “personality games” against us.

Not talking about seeing diaper ads because you had a baby shower. I am talking about feeding you targeted fake news to incite you to go over a line you might not have.

Here is some review material if indeed you don’t know, from yesterday’s blog https://amssvs.com/2018/03/20/which-is-worse-facebooks-poor-stewardship-of-our-data-or-its-lack-of-transparency/

What can you do? Close the door on Facebook? Not everyone can. There are support groups you may need for your well-being. There are far-flung family most easily reachable on FB.

At the end of my blog, I suggested that people and businesses consider other platforms. Let Facebook know you are unhappy by reducing engagement. Oh, they are “aware” of discontent among the masses, but they won’t feel it until the algorithms show massive nose dive of engagement.

The other option is to reduce your electronic footprint on FB itself. Don’t feed the beast any more info about you.

David Nield, writing for Gizmodo posted “Here’s How to Share as Little Data as Possible Without Deleting Facebook” yesterday. It is a great step by step walk through to clean up loose ends and tie up others to make you a lean, mean fighting machine against Facebook’s rape of your private data for financial gain.

Don’t forget that. This isn’t like a hacker stole credit card info from a business. Facebook sold access to your life. And apparently did little once the transgressions were made known.

Nield writes that deleting data from your Facebook profile “doesn’t necessarily mean Facebook will forget it ever existed—in fact it may well keep your data internally until you actually delete your account in full. However, clearing up your profile will stop apps you connect in the future from accessing it. You should also vow to ignore Facebook’s prompts to add more details to your profile from this point on.”

Uninstall Facebook from your phones and tablets, is another Nield suggestion. This is a great post with clear directions. Check it out.

Nield makes this one other point that I wish to emphasize (hopefully without exceeding allowable quoting from an article) “The now infamous Cambridge Analytica data harvesting happened through a third-party Facebook app—in this case a personality test—and we’ve warned you many times to keep these kind of connections down to a minimum.”

stripe“The more apps and sites you connect to your Facebook account, the more exposed you are.”

The more exposed you are.

 Who would have thought something as cute and cuddly as Facebook would turn out to be as dangerous as mogwai fed after midnight?  

 

Which Is Worse: Facebook’s Poor Stewardship of Our Data or Its Lack of Transparency?

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For me, the cynically dark phrase “too big to fail” comes to mind in describing Facebook management’s precarious position in light of the current Cambridge Analytica News. “It’s not a data breach.” You say tomato and I say BS. Compound this situation with the targeted disinformation campaign lodged by Russian hackers to manipulate Facebook groups into organizing divisive political protests. Something bad happened during Facebook’s stewardship of our info, that we willingly gave them permission to collect.

Facebook was too big and powerful and too well run to make mistakes.

Just look at the bullet points of this CNBC article:

  •  Facebook’s reaction to a year of scandal has vacillated between defensive cluelessness and aloof silence.
  • Users are getting the message that information they post on Facebook can be used in ways they did not intend, and usage is starting to decline.
  • Meanwhile, executives are selling shares like crazy, including a plan by Mark Zuckerberg to sell almost $13 billion worth of shares by mid-2019.

Don’t just read the article, watch the video clip as well.

These areas should give readers and advertisers cause for concern. If you can’t trust Facebook’s word that your personal info is safe. If you can’t trust Facebook to own up/remedy quickly any breaches.  How can you trust anything FB tells you about reach and engagement data?

Ian MalcolmI “became an adult” during the Cold War. “Trust no one” and all that. In fact, I never had a FB page until I needed it to join Facebook groups. But, I never trusted this whole data mining / re-selling is good for business. (See Dr Ian Malcolm quote).

Anything and everything during the Cold War that could be turned into a weapon would be. It’s a lesson forgotten that painfully needs to be retaught. Data may be coin of the realm. But it is also power. And power corrupts in the wrong hands. As we are seeing in the headlines.

So, what happens now? Life goes on, but there is a price to be paid.

Which Is Worse: Facebook’s Poor Stewardship of our Data or Its Lack of Transparency? You decide.

I am advising my clients to scale down on FB and use an alternate means of engaging with readers & customers.