Sinclair Broadcasting employees given notice at Thursday morning all-hands meeting
Rogue Valley Times staff
In a surprise announcement Thursday morning, KTVL News 10 told employees of the Medford TV station it would be laying off most of its local staff and switching its format.
KTVL management could not be reached for comment, but Medford Alert, a local social media news operation, said it received a statement from Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns the CBS-affiliated station, which said, “We are changing the way we produce news in Medford to ensure our long-term success. Beginning May 15, The National Desk, which provides real-time national and regional news from Sinclair’s television stations across the US, will air during KTVL’s regularly scheduled news time periods. TND offers an alternative choice for news, and there will be an opportunity for local news cut-ins in the newscast.”
Several KTVL employees speaking off the record said they were told Thursday that local news would largely be eliminated.
Taylar Ansures, the station’s digital producer, said she could not remain silent.
“I’m a journalist. It’s my job to inform the public about what’s going on. I went into that meeting with a lot of questions that they refused to answer,” she said.
Ansures moved from Redding with her toddler son for the job in November of last year. She has family in the Rogue Valley, and as a single mom, she was looking forward to the support. As an employee with the Sinclair company since 2021, she expected more than one week of notice, two weeks severance pay and an order not to talk.
“I will never work for Sinclair again. A lot of what I posted as a digital producer, the stuff I put on our website or our social, it doesn’t necessarily reflect our stances as journalists. We dislike Sinclair propaganda as much as our viewers,” she said of the company.
Staff at the station felt a coming change in recent weeks, but they expected the station to merge with KVAL, a Sinclair-owned television station in Eugene.
Instead, staff received an email Wednesday evening notifying them of a 9:30 a.m., mandatory all-staff meeting Thursday morning that would include a regional human services representative and a regional news manager.
Staff were told one multimedia journalist will remain along with sales staff at the building at 111 N. Fir St. That journalist will be responsible for providing breaking news big enough for a national audience, such as large wildfires. Those broadcasts will be folded into the “The National Desk.” Staff were also told not to post anything on the news website or to otherwise share the news.
“This is not what our viewers deserve,” Ansures said. “Our viewers deserve good regional journalism — we won’t be able to do that anymore.”
Ansures said she believes 17 employees will lose their jobs when the change takes effect.
“We’re all hurting now, we’re all extremely close — we’re like a family. Not knowing where people are going to go, what they’ll do, if they’ll leave the area, it’s hard,” she said.
As a member of the Cow Creek Tribe, she said she feels a deep connection to the Rogue Valley’s history and culture. She hopes to stay in the area but she also wants to remain working in journalism, but her position as parent and single breadwinner may force her to make other arrangements.
CBS has been trimming affiliate stations in recent months. On April 2, Today.com reported the company was losing revenue and slipping behind in ratings, leading to cuts of prominent news anchors in large cities across the country and the potential shuttering of smaller local outlets.
In March, Sinclair Broadcasting confirmed it was planning changes to some of its local stations, according to AdWeek.com.
A spokesperson told AdWeek the station group was not planning mass layoffs or closing newsrooms, but would be making changes to the way it produces news in a few of its markets.
“In addition to our local news coverage, we will be adding The National Desk, which provides real-time national and regional news from Sinclair’s television stations across the US. TND will feature local news content from the market in every hour of the newscast,” according to a Sinclair statement given to AdWeek. “TND, which offers an alternative choice for news, has grown exponentially over the last year, reaching more than 2.5 million viewers per week, across all dayparts, and will bring something uniquely different to our community.”
This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times