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WGN-TV journalists meet with union, as Sinclair takeover nears

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.'s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md. |Associated Press

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.'s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md. |Associated Press

On-air WGN-TV journalists met with union representatives this week, apparently concerned about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s imminent takeover of the station, according to an online post Friday by Chicago media columnist Robert Feder.

Sinclair, which owns some 200 local stations, has been in the spotlight recently, following a Deadspin video that featured dozens of the company’s TV news anchors reciting exactly the same scripted message warning against “fake stories.” The video, which went viral, provoked a tweet by President Donald Trump supporting Sinclair.

Feder’s post doesn’t say what, specifically, the WGN journalists discussed. Also this week, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., sent a letter to a top Sinclair executive, expressing his concern about the on-air message, saying it “undercuts the journalistic integrity of local news anchors who are required to deliver corporate-scripted messages, at times without providing a disclaimer of their source,” according to the online publication, The Hill.

RELATED: Sinclair’s journalists should stand up for journalism, reject company scripts

Durbin asked Sinclair executive chairman David Smith to provide a copy of the company’s policy regarding “Sinclair-produced mandated content for local news anchors,” according to The Hill.

Sinclair’s proposed takeover of WGN and other Tribune Media stations is on hold — for now. The deal, which was announced in May 2017, still needs the approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission.

In a memo sent to Sinclair newsrooms, obtained by CNN Money, Sinclair Senior Vice President of News Scott Livingston said the uniform message was a “well-researched journalistic initiative focused on fair and objective reporting.”