Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) announces the launch of a national investigative unit, utilizing its award-winning investigative reporters and producers across the Sinclair station group and Circa, to produce original stories, of both local and national importance that cannot be found anywhere else. "We are having incredible success with accountability reporting in multiple markets. Viewers want an honest presentation of the news and appreciate the hard work and dedication required to research and uncover the truth regarding the issues that impact their lives," commented Scott Livingston, Vice President of News for Sinclair. "Our strategy in many Sinclair markets will be to shift some daily news coverage resources into investigative journalism. Sinclair plans to raise the overall number of investigative reporters strategically positioned on the ground to over 100 reporters."
Today, Sinclair's largest local news investigative team is at WJLA in Washington, DC, with 11 journalists. "Twenty-two of our news operations have investigative reporters and we will stress investigative journalism in future recruiting efforts," said Livingston.
Sinclair launched a weekly national investigative news program, Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson in 2015. The program is ready to launch its third season after achieving record ratings in the first two seasons. Viewership has increased 116% in the key 25-54 demographic, outperforming cable news programming despite only reaching 38% of the country. "Week after week, Full Measure continues to deliver unique stories you won't see anywhere else. Viewers trust our team for honest reporting and a commitment to accountability," said Livingston. The show is led by 5-time Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Sharyl Attkisson and Executive Producer Batt Humphreys, both former network journalists. "We tell it like it is and that clearly resonates and is gaining momentum with the audience," said Humphreys.
Another Sinclair news investigative initiative is Project Baltimore, an ongoing investigation of the public school systems in the Baltimore area. Baltimore City schools suffer from poor test scores, underperforming schools, high dropout rates and one of the highest taxpayer spending per student in the country. Sinclair and its Baltimore station, WBFF, have invested in four investigative journalists led by national award-winning Chief Investigative Reporter Chris Papst. "People have wanted more in this city for kids for decades and it's never happened," Papst explains. "We are exposing why and are focused on being the mouthpiece for parents who want something better." The Project Baltimore unit will look into every aspect of the Baltimore City and Baltimore County School systems and uncover and report on the successes and failures of these enormous government entities. In just six months, the team has uncovered apparent evidence of grade fixing, allegations of manipulation of school crime data, questionable spending, and unsatisfactory conditions in some city schools. As a result of our investigation, the Baltimore City school system has launched an investigation into possible grade fixing. "This is a great case study on the value of continuous investigative storytelling. We hold leaders accountable and are an advocate for the community. That's part of our core mission," Livingston said.
"This is a long-term project," said Sinclair's Director of News Content, Bill Anderson. "There are many layers to this story. It can't be told in a week or a month. These continuing reports will air year-round," said Anderson.
Sinclair will also leverage our investigative reporters at Circa, our Emmy winning millennial-focused digital news source. Circa's investigative reporters broke the stories of the unmasking of thousands of private citizens by the U.S. government; the auctioning of recalled cars by the General Services Administration and the growing rate of seizures and forfeitures by local governments.
"Sinclair has a steadfast dedication to providing content that exposes the truth. Our experienced, award-winning journalists alert, empower and protect. The anticipated acquisition of Tribune will add more opportunity to collaborate with our local newsrooms to create even more investigative content that benefits all of our viewers," said Livingston. "This was a proud year for our news operations with more than 90 Regional Emmy Awards, 36 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards including two "Overall Excellence" awards, 2 National Murrow Awards and 2 National Gracie Awards."
About Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
Sinclair is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country. Pro forma for the Tribune acquisition (before any related divestitures), the Company will own, operate and/or provide services to 233 television stations in 108 markets. The Company has multiple emerging networks as well as stations affiliated with all the major networks. Sinclair is a leading local news provider in the country and a producer of live sports content. Sinclair's content is delivered via multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.