The National Desk
Also known asTND
Genre
Presented by
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Production
Production locationsWJLA-TV studios, Rosslyn, Arlington, Virginia
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time
  • 180 minutes (morning)
  • 120 minutes (evening)
  • 60 minutes (weekend)
Production companySinclair Broadcast Group
Original release
NetworkSinclair Broadcast Group stations
ReleaseJanuary 18, 2021 (2021-01-18) –
present

The National Desk (TND) is a daily American television news program produced by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The program premiered nationally on January 18, 2021, and utilizes the journalistic resources of Sinclair's news operations throughout the United States, as well as original content. It originates from the studios of flagship station WJLA-TV in the Washington, D.C. market.

History

In June 2020, Sinclair announced it would launch "a headline news service" that would air weekday mornings (6:00–9:00 local time) and rely on news-gathering services of Sinclair's stations as well as original content, similar in format to NewsNation Prime produced by Nexstar Media Group for NewsNation.[1]

The program would be titled The National Desk, and Sinclair tapped veteran news anchor Jan Jeffcoat to host the program. It launched on January 18, 2021, and airs on Sinclair's CW and MyNetworkTV-affiliated stations, along with its Fox-affiliated stations without any local newscasts or news share agreements.[2]

The National Desk largely replaced paid programming, televangelism, and syndicated programming on those stations, reportedly saving Sinclair money in the long-run. The morning block also served as the replacement for Sinclair's attempt at non-educational children's programming, KidsClick, which had ended two years before.[3]

On May 4, 2021, Sinclair announced an evening expansion of The National Desk on September 27. The two-hour evening block airs after network primetime in the Eastern and Central time zones, while leading into it in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.[4]

On November 15, 2021, ABC affiliate WATM-TV in Altoona, Pennsylvania begin airing The National Desk in place of where local newscasts would normally air, making it among Sinclair's first "Big Three" affiliated stations to air The National Desk. Prior to this, it was airing a newscast produced from LMA partner WJAC-TV in nearby Johnstown, Pennsylvania.[5] Another LMA sister station, Fox affiliate WWCP-TV in Johnstown, will air The National Desk during WATM-TV's network commitments with ABC.

A weekend edition of the program was launched on Saturday, March 5, 2022, anchored by Eugene Ramirez, who also anchors the live desk during the weekday evening edition.[6]

Recently, several "Big Four" stations owned or operated by Sinclair have replaced their local newscasts with The National Desk. On April 3, The National Desk began airing on WPMI in Mobile, Alabama, WEYI in Flint, Michigan, WACH in Columbia, South Carolina and WGXA in Macon, Georgia (some local newscasts were retained on all of the above stations). Then on May 15, The National Desk was added on WNWO in Toledo, Ohio, KTVL in Medford, Oregon, KPTH in Sioux City, Iowa, WGFL/WNBW-DT in Gainesville, Florida and KPTM in Omaha, Nebraska, as those news operations were shuttered.[7]

Format

The National Desk is described by Sinclair as a "comprehensive, commentary-free" news program, despite Sinclair historically requiring its local stations to broadcast conservative opinion must-run segments.[8] However, the program has been criticized by Media Matters for America for airing COVID-19 misinformation,[9] inviting commentators from anti-immigrant organization FAIR,[10] repeatedly airing a National Taxpayers Union falsehood regarding the cost of the INVEST in America Act,[11] promoting efforts to counter inclusion of critical race theory in public schools,[12] conducting interviews that propagated 2020 U.S. presidential election misinformation,[13] and concealing interviewees' support of Republican efforts to restrict voting while discussing election security.[14][15][16]

Common segments on The National Desk include Fact Check Team, which fact checks issues currently in political discourse (originally called the "truth squad team");[17][8] Spotlight on America, with reporting from Sinclair's investigative team on important issues impacting Americans;[18] Pulse of America, featuring local reports from Sinclair stations across the country;[8] Live Desk, an anchor who presents breaking news and developing stories;[19] and a weather segment at the end of each half hour for the morning program, and at the end of each hour on the evening edition, featuring reports from Sinclair meteorologists reporting on their local region, in a cycle around the United States. The weather section can be replaced with local weather, news, or other programming for a specific market.[20] The weekend edition is a summary of notable stories from the weekday editions, and is presented by the weeknight anchor.[21]

The program airs on Sinclair's ad-supported streaming service Stirr, along with the live video section of nearly every Sinclair station site and app, allowing it national availability. The program does not air on Sinclair stations in every market due to network commitments or lack of a sister station entirely.[8]

The National Weather Desk

The National Weather Desk launched on September 26, 2022 as a half hour spinoff of The National Desk.[22] The program features an extended look at top weather stories, a national forecast, local weather-related stories from Sinclair stations, explainers about weather events, and weather-related photos and videos from viewers. The last portion of each program is a cut-in to allow stations to present local forecasts or other content.[23]

Reception

The program gained notice at launch for having five times as many Twitter followers as NewsNation after its first week (compared to NewsNation, which had been on the air for five months). However, the social media accounts under "@Circa" had existed since 2012 for Sinclair's defunct Circa News service. That service was discontinued on March 26, 2019, with Sinclair keeping its existing social media accounts alive and repurposing them under the new "@TND" handle quietly two months later and building The National Desk concept around the dormant accounts, along with retaining most of the Circa-era follower base who had not stopped following the accounts. NewsNation in contrast had started fresh social media accounts, rather than transitioning its followers from those following it under the channel's former branding of WGN America.[24][25]

References

  1. ^ "Sinclair Broadcast Group to Launch Headline News Service, Announces 25 New Positions to be Filled," press release from Sinclair Broadcast Group, June 17, 2020
  2. ^ "Sinclair Broadcast Group's The National Desk To Premiere Monday, January 18," press release from Sinclair Broadcast Group via PRNewswire, January 15, 2021
  3. ^ Jones, Scott. "Sinclair To Launch Headline News Service". FTVLive.
  4. ^ Steinberg, Brian (May 4, 2021). "Sinclair Expands 'The National Desk' to Evenings". Variety. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  5. ^ "Is This the Beginning?".
  6. ^ Lafayette, Jon (March 3, 2022). "Sinclair's 'National Desk' Adding Weekend Edition March 5". Broadcasting+Cable. Archived from the original on January 2, 2023. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  7. ^ Lafayette, Jon (May 2, 2023). "Sinclair Replaces Local Newscasts With 'The National Desk' in 5 Markets". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d Barron, Alicia (September 2, 2021). "All news may be local — but more and more of it is going national". Cronkite News Lab. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  9. ^ Pleat, Zachary (January 21, 2021). "Sinclair's new "commentary-free" national news program broadcasts dangerous COVID-19 misinformation during its premiere episode". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  10. ^ Pleat, Zachary (February 12, 2021). "Sinclair has repeatedly turned to a former Trump immigration official who defended family separation for commentary". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  11. ^ Pleat, Zachary (August 13, 2021). "Sinclair Broadcast Group repeatedly spread brazen lie that bipartisan infrastructure bill would add $400 trillion to national debt". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  12. ^ Pleat, Zachary (June 11, 2021). "How Sinclair Broadcast Group's morning news show is misleading local TV audiences about critical race theory". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  13. ^ Salamy, Elissa (January 5, 2022). "Georgia opens investigation into ballot harvesting claims". The National Desk. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  14. ^ Pleat, Zachary (June 7, 2021). "Sinclair's National Desk allowed a guest to lie about a federal voting rights bill". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  15. ^ Pleat, Zachary (June 22, 2021). "Sinclair anchor allows Republican senator to push litany of lies about For the People Act". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  16. ^ Pleat, Zachary (January 19, 2022). "A year of misinformation on Sinclair's morning show The National Desk". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  17. ^ updated, Jon Lafayettelast (December 6, 2021). "Sinclair Launches Website For 'The National Desk' News Program". Broadcasting Cable. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  18. ^ Daniels, Angie Moreschi, Alex Brauer, Andrea Nejman, Duane Pohlman, Chris (May 19, 2023). "Special coverage: EV Safety; Recalled Products; Catching Contraband; Urban Rebound". The National Desk. Retrieved May 29, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Villafañe, Veronica (September 30, 2021). "Eugene Ramirez returns to news as an anchor for Sinclair's "National Desk"". Media Moves. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  20. ^ "Scott D. Pierce: Sinclair is dropping local news at some stations. Is KUTV one of them?". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  21. ^ Lafayette, Jon (March 3, 2022). "Sinclair's 'National Desk' Adding Weekend Edition March 5". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  22. ^ "The National Weather Desk Debut | The National Weather Desk brings you all the most significant and interesting weather stories from coast to coast. MORE HERE:... | By The National Desk - TND | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  23. ^ Desk, The National (September 26, 2022). "Coverage of Tropical Storm Ian on The National Weather Desk". WLOS. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  24. ^ "Follow up".
  25. ^ "Sinclair Quietly Rebrands Circa".