The Shop Talk panelists touch on several issues this week: Sinclair Broadcast Group's acquisition of more TV stations, layoffs at an Illinois newspaper, and the layoff notice given to a broadcast news educator.
Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she has mixed feelings about the Sinclair news. She said people who work at Sinclair-owned stations now have more options if they want to transfer to one of the company’s stations in a different market.
But Crighton also said Sinclair-owned stations will now reach more than 70% of the nation’s viewers. She questioned whether the company is too large.
Panelist Will Buss said the Sinclair acquisitions are troublesome because the company has a clear political slant and can now bring that bias to more households.
Regarding the newspaper layoffs, they happened at the paper where Buss was employed before he came to work at Western Illinois University. He said these cuts were a bit unusual because they did not hit the newsroom; instead, all those let go worked in advertising. Buss said the reporting staff might have been spared because it’s already been cut deeply.
Panelist Rich Egger said ownership groups want workers to do more with less, a phrase he considers akin to nails on a chalkboard.
He also said Southern Illinois University dismissed the instructor who served as news director of the student-produced TV newscast. Egger said it will be more difficult to train the next generation of journalists if colleges and universities decide such positions are unnecessary.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.