In a memo sent to employees of sister stations Fox31 and Channel 2, general manager Joan Barrett orders on-air personalities to wear clothing emblazoned with company logos in public, in part because "our research consistently shows — that viewers do not know the names of our talent."
Staffers were sent the memo on the morning of Monday, October 15. It was subsequently published by the website FTVLive, and Westword has confirmed its authenticity.
Barrett was named GM for the outlets in February 2016, and the subsequent two years have been tumultuous.
In 2017, Tribune Media agreed to sell Fox31 (call letters: KDVR) and Channel 2 (KWGN) to the Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of a $3.9 billion transaction involving 42 stations, and the deal was controversial from the start, for reasons explained by John Oliver in a memorable episode of his HBO program, Last Week Tonight . As Oliver noted, Sinclair forces signals under its umbrella to run ultra-right-wing opinion pieces — one reason industry insiders predicted the company would try to cobble together its assorted properties to create a national conservative network to rival Fox News.
The size and scope of the plan raised concerns among federal regulators, prompting Sinclair to look at ways to pare down the number of stations it was acquiring — and reports soon surfaced that 21st Century Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch would buy Fox31. This development was followed by speculation among industry pros that Sinclair would replace Channel 2's prime-time programming with a nationally syndicated conservative news block, thereby prompting the elimination of local news coverage.
The theory seemed to die after the Sinclair pact fell apart in August, leaving Fox31 and Channel 2 in the Tribune portfolio. But there's no telling how much longer that will be the case. Yesterday, October 16, the New York Post named Tom Hicks Jr., the man behind the pro-President Trump superpac America First, as the Tribune stations' latest suitor. And the recent announcement that Channel 2 anchor Mike Landess is stepping down at the end of November sweeps suggests that more changes are on the way locally, too. No wonder inside sources tell us that newsroom morale is currently very low.
Consider these factors as you read the memo, during which Barrett exhorts anchors and reporters at public events to "say your name. Say where you work. ASK [viewers] to watch — and ask them to email or message you on [Facebook] with their feedback."
The memo doesn't include mention of potential punishment for folks who fail to follow the edict. But its subject line reads, "To be very clear," and it is.
We've reached out to Barrett. If and when she gets back to us, we'll update this post. In the meantime, here's the memo.
From: Barrett, Joan
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2018 10:34 AM
Subject: To be very clear
We continue to have questions and confusion about logo gear. The simple answer is — wear it.
If you are hosting a walk, run, or an event that is not “dressy.” Please wear our logo shirts, logo jackets, logo hats. Do not wear the event T shirt. Wear OUR shirts with logos.
Our research consistently shows — that viewers do not know the names of our talent. Say your name. Say where you work. ASK them to watch — and ask them to email or message you on FB with their feedback.
If you do not have a station hat (baseball or stocking cap) – please see [promotions].
Women — we have the blue stocking caps and the Colorado stocking hat.
If you don’t have a baseball cap — see [promotions]. In general — we have dual logo hats for field crews. We have some solo logs for special events like Fortitude.
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As you may know — we are also ordering more jackets. So — if you have the wrong size, or wrong logos — make sure [promotions] knows so he can take care of you on this order.
If I see you in the field on-air — I expect to see our coat. If you have a hat on — our hats. If you are MC’ing an event — logo gear.
We buy it — so you can wear it. Please wear it.