Sinclair thinks there is money and ratings to be made with the opioid epidemic in this country.
The bosses at the Sinclair stations received a confidential memo that says that the opioid problem needs to be a key focus to their coverage.
“Meet with your station’s leadership team to create coverage of the opioid crisis which goes beyond news stories,“ said Sinclair’s Director News Content and Operations Mark Ginther in the confidential memo.
It appears that the opioid push at Sinclair will go on for at least a couple of months. “In news, we are asking you to produce and/or air two stories a week for a minimum of 8 weeks. (You can go longer),” Ginther writes.
Here is the internal memo, obtained by FTVLive:
From: Mark Ginther
Date: May 14, 2019 at 7:36:41 PM EDT
To: News - News Directors All SBG
Cc: Scott Livingston, William Anderson, Manny Fantis, David Johns, Lane Michaelsen, Blaise Labbe, Jeff Parsons, Julie Fries, Stanley Heist, Mike McCormick, Gregory Massoni, Kaelan Dorr
Subject: Covering The Opioid Crisis
Sinclair has taken the national lead reporting on a very important issue-opioid addiction. There is a real crisis in America with deadly opioid addictions. It impacts people in every community and in every walk of life. The figures are startling. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claims opioid overdoses killed more than 47,000 people in the US in 2017 – almost 130 a day – and 36% of those involved prescription opioids. Two in three drug overdose deaths now involve opioids, and this has increased six-fold since 1999.
Scott Gottlieb, an FDA Commissioner recently said:
“This is perhaps the biggest public health tragedy ever created through the deliberate actions of people. It took hold over the course of decades of action and inaction. It will, unfortunately, take years of aggressive action to reverse its course.”
Sinclair is dedicated to covering stories which impact communities. This epidemic is a story happening live in our communities every day.
HALT or the Opioid Project was rolled out as an opportunity to stations earlier this year. (This is separate from the Eric Bolling town halls.) We are now looking for your station to create a plan for your market.
Meet with your station’s leadership team to create coverage of the opioid crisis which goes beyond news stories. Here are some ideas:
Local Town Halls
Live phone banks during newscasts
Create a dedicated section on the website
Dedicated Facebook posts and social media engagement
Public service campaign with local VIP’s
In news, we are asking you to produce and/or air two stories a week for a minimum of 8 weeks. (You can go longer).
We have pulled together stories from across Sinclair-which will travel-to add to your coverage. (These can be used to help you reach the two story a week expectation). There are 17 stories which will be available to download on Monday, May 20th. Beyond that what are some other ways to cover this story in your market? Here are some suggestions:
Live interviews within newscasts during a targeted week
In-depth series of reports
Meet with your general manager and station leadership team. We would like to share your station’s plan with your group news director bynoon, Friday, May 24th. This needs to include your target dates for this project.
If you need help or have questions, we are all available and anxious to help support this project. Let us know what we can do.
This is an important effort. Together-we can make an impact.
Director News Content and Operations
Sinclair Broadcast Group