Latinos and other minority groups are underrepresented in media, but particularly concerning is the lack of diversity in the broadcast television stations that control how important facts about current events are presented to the public on local news shows. 

A pending transaction would help diversify the broadcasting industry and level the playing field to ensure a more representative approach to news coverage.

Standard General, an investment firm whose founder and managing partner is Soo Kim, an imminently qualified Korean American business leader, is acquiring TEGNA, a national media company that owns television stations across the country. In Tennessee, leading broadcast stations WBIR in Knoxville and WATN and WLMT in Memphis would be included in the transaction.

The new enterprise will be run by accomplished industry veteran and Broadcasting Hall of Fame member Deb McDermott, who has over 40 years of broadcast experience under her belt, including 20 years in leadership roles. Under the leadership of Soo Kim and Deb McDermott, TEGNA will become the largest minority-owned, woman-led media firm in U.S. history.

This transaction is important because localism matters and impacts all of us. It’s no secret that local journalism continues to face significant challenges, including a decline in advertising revenue and the rise of digital media. Many newspapers have had to cut jobs or reduce operating expenses. In 2021, one of our state’s main daily newspapers reverted to an online-only format after 115 years of print circulation.

Local journalism matters. Tennesseans in Williamson County are lucky to have the Williamson Herald as a strong media voice — which is committed to covering local news that matters and is relevant to its readership. And, local journalists who know the community, the main players and can accurately report on impactful news. 

To that end, Soo Kim is pledging to invest in and reinvigorate local news with more news programming, technology and diverse voices. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should move quickly to approve this transaction and send a signal to all future investors that the FCC welcomes new minority owners into a broadcast industry that has historically lacked diverse ownership and representation. The government should not stand in the way of free enterprise system and a business merger dedicated to enhancing local news.

Read full story in The Williamson Herald

The Williamson Herald | by Raul Lopez