Sixteen university journalism department deans and chairs have now signed a letter of concern to Sinclair Broadcast Group's chairman, David Smith. The letter began at the University of Maryland, the university closest to Sinclair's Baltimore headquarters and spread to other respected journalism schools at LSU, University of Georgia, Temple, USC and on Monday NYU and other universities added their names.
While some schools joined the letter after Poynter published it Friday, a few others said their faculty would not approve joining the letter because they said, it did not go far enough condemning Sinclair for the "anchor promo" and for comments Smith made about print media in America serving "no real purpose" and that print media has "no credibility."
Lucy Dalglish, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland told Poynter that 20 minutes after receiving the emailed letter on Friday, Smith emailed back to say that he and Sinclair Vice President for News Scott Livingston would talk with her, but no date has been set for that.
Dalglish told Poynter, "I think our students were pleased that we are speaking up for their concerns." Friday as she was collecting signatures, she told Poynter that students and recent graduates were "freaking out" over whether they should accept jobs or internships with Sinclair.
Dalglish said she has never been involved in organizing a unified statement of journalism school leaders like this before and could not recall it having happened before. "There is a group of deans who are part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative who have spoken as a group about journalism education issues," but that was a small group the biggest research universities.
In a twist of odd timing, Sinclair recruiters were on the Merrill School campus today recruiting students about to graduate. "We had a cordial conversation," Dalglish said. Many top Sinclair executives are Merrill graduates.
Update on the NPPA donation
Sinclair surprised The National Press Photographers Association last week by retracting a $25,000 donation to the NPPA legal fund after the photographers group issued a critical statement about Sinclair's "news promotion" and Smith's comments about print journalism.
In the week since, NPPA says 80 supporters have donated nearly $11,000 to the fund with more coming in. The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia announced Monday that it will make a "significant contribution" to NPPA. The Grady College is the home of NPPA and the school dean, Charles N. Davis, was one of the first signatures on the letter of concern that Dalglish circulated.