Amid national controversy, 21 students drop out of Sinclair interviews
Alexis Egeland and Fortesa Latifi, The State Press
More than half of the 35 ASU journalism students who originally expressed interest in interviewing with Sinclair Broadcast Group recruiters dropped out of the interview days, according to Cronkite School Associate Dean Mark Lodato.
He said 14 students came to the recruiter meetings.
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Christopher Callahan sent out a school-wide email on Friday expressing that the school would invite Sinclair recruiters despite recent controversy surrounding the broadcast giant's alleged conservative bias and must-run segments.
"We believe limiting employment options – in any way – for students trying to enter a highly competitive field is not in their best interests," Callahan wrote in the email.
Some students and alumni felt the school's response to the Sinclair controversy inadequate, and as events unfolded, 21 students dropped out of April 15 and April 16 Sinclair recruiting events.
One of those students was Tyler Paley, a sports journalism graduate student, who sent Mike Wong, the director of career services, an email asking to be removed from the recruiting schedule.
"Since I signed up for an interview, I've been uneasy about it. What's been exposed lately — and frankly, what we've known about Sinclair's behavior for a while — is not what I stand for. It's not what many of my peers stand for. And it most certainly shouldn't be what the Cronkite School stands for," Paley's e-mail read.
Lodato said that it's "...to be expected, given the situation," that some students would want to drop out of the interview days with Sinclair.
Lodato said the school's decision to hold the interview days was based on affirmation from 54 faculty members, 38 of 41 Cronkite endowment board members — including Callahan and Senior Associate Dean Kristin Gilger — and nine of 10 national advisory board members.
The remaining three members of the endowment board and the remaining member of the national advisory board couldn’t be reached, according to Lodato.
"Bottom line is we're confident that we have significant support from the larger Cronkite community when it comes to giving students the opportunity to make the decision with what is their future," Lodato said.
Lodato confirmed that on Saturday, Wong called or emailed the students who were still slated to attend the Sinclair recruiting events.
In one e-mail obtained by The State Press, he wrote: "Just checking to see if you saw Dean Callahan's note RE: Sinclair. If you want to stay on the schedule, that's fine. If you want to opt out, that's fine, too. Totally your call."
Lodato said it's routine for Wong to contact students before recruiting days, but that he took care to ensure that the students were aware of the situation with Sinclair as well as Callahan's statement.
Blakely McHugh, a journalism senior, said Wong called her on Saturday afternoon and asked if she wanted to go through with the interviews.
McHugh decided to keep her interview slot.
"It's practice for me," McHugh said. "It's practice for interviewing."
Isabel Greenblatt, a journalism senior, got a similar call. She also decided to continue with the recruitment day, though she said she was hesitant enough to ask her parents for guidance on the issue.
In response to student concerns, the school has added a 90-minute mastery class on April 20 called "What to Know Before You Sign: Contracts and Negotiations."
"We want student to be able to make the decision about what to do but we want to give them as many tools as possible," Lodato said.
This piece was originally published on statepress.com.