WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Politicians Trying to Control the Message

Sep 23, 2014

The panelists discuss the poor treatment student journalists sometimes receive from news makers, and how it’s symptomatic of a larger problem.

In one recent example, Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner’s campaign refused to allow a class of Columbia College journalism students into a news conference.  The campaign said only credentialed journalists could attend.

The Shop Talk panelists feel Rauner is trying to control the message, something he also does by running a lot of TV ads instead of answering questions from reporters. The panelists said he’s not alone – President Barack Obama’s administration has been especially strict about controlling the message, even to the point of restricting the access provided to photojournalists.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said student journalists are indeed journalists and they shouldn’t be turned away when they show up to cover an event. She said they deserve to get the training that comes with covering events, and she feels it’s important to have their voices heard.

Panelist Rich Egger said it’s beneficial to include student journalists in news conferences because sometimes they come up with questions about topics that other reporters might not immediately think about – for example, they might inquire about student aid issues.

Panelist Rich Moreno said student reporters benefit from covering political events – especially history making events such as Obama’s February, 2007 announcement that he would run for president -- because it reinforces their decision to become journalists.

Moreno also cited the recent example of a visiting writer to Western Illinois University who tried to dictate how an article about her should be written in the student newspaper, The Western Courier.  The paper refused to allow her to control the message and the story was spiked.