WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Shop Talk

Tri States Public Radio's weekly round table discussion of media related issues featuring News Director Rich Egger, WIU Broadcasting Professor Mike Murray and WIU Jounalism Professor Bill Knight.

Mark Twain deserves credit for the quote used in the headline, while journalists who report on someone's demise before it's confirmed discredit their industry.

The Associated Press reported that government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities, and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests.

The Poynter Institute reported on a project called Report for America that aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. According to Poynter, this is how RFA will work: 

Frontline, the outstanding public television documentary program, will do some audio-only documentaries as podcasts. The magazine Current reported on the story. Program producers told the magazine certain stories are meant to be told in the audio format rather than video. 

The problems caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been well-covered in the media.  Meanwhile, wildfires have also caused destruction in parts of the U.S. but have not received as much coverage.

The Shop Talk panelists this week discuss news coverage of Hurricane Harvey and what it's like to report on a disaster.

RTDNA recently ran a column from a contributor who recommends every reporter have a blog.  The author of the piece wrote that it's a chance for reporters to keep their creative writing skills sharp, given that a lot of news writing is churned out to ensure there is content for newscasts.

In the Washington Post, media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote about what she called the false equivalency presidency of Donald Trump.  She wrote, "During the 2016 presidential campaign, the national news media's misguided sense of fairness helped equate the serious flaws of Hillary Clinton with the disqualifying evils of Donald Trump."

Al Tompkins and Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute say they've both covered hate groups and they're offering some advice for journalists.  They shared their thoughts in an article that's the subject of this week's Shop Talk.

MarketWatch reported that a survey by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri found The Economist is the most trusted news source in the U.S.  Other news organizations that fared well in the survey include NPR, Reuters, the BBC, and The Wall Street Journal.

Keeping It Civil

Aug 1, 2017

A recent case of animal cruelty in western Illinois sparked an onslaught of angry social media comments on the websites for some news organizations.  People called for all manner of retribution against the person accused of the crime. A television station felt compelled to post a piece urging people to show some restraint and not become an online lynch mob.

The Peoria Journal Star recently ran an article about changes in local TV newsrooms.  The piece quoted a member of management at one station who took young journalists to task.

The Poynter Institute reported on an appeals court ruling that found it is lawful for journalists and members of the public to video record police in public places. Journalism groups considered it a First Amendment issue.

A couple high profile defamation cases were back in the news during the latter half of June. One involved a lawsuit against ABC News. The other suit concerned Rolling Stone magazine.

The White House recently adopted what's described as a "screw the media" strategy to make it more difficult for journalists to do their jobs.  And the U.S. Senate took action to reduce media access to its members.

A recent commentary in the Columbia Journalism Review calls non-compete contracts "a silent scourge creeping around newsrooms."  The author argues such contracts might help corporate executives but do absolutely nothing for the reporters who are required to sign them.

The FCC has proposed eliminating the main studio rule, which requires AM, FM, and TV stations to have a studio in or near the community they serve and to have a locally staffed office.

A recent TV News Check column suggests it's time to get rid of the "sweeps" ratings periods held in television four times a year.  The writer believes local newscasts should strive to deliver great reporting throughout the year instead of holding the best pieces for sweeps periods, which are used to set ad rates.

The National Press Club, the RTDNA, the Society of Professional Journalists, and nine other journalism groups say it's time to tone down the anti-news media rhetoric.  In particular they're calling out those in public office.

Visionary or Pariah?

May 23, 2017

Roger Ailes, the former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, died May 18.  Depending on who you talk to, he's either praised for turning Fox News into a powerhouse that gave conservatives a major presence on cable television news or blamed for damaging journalism and civil discourse.

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.

Police departments can quickly disseminate information to the public through various social media sites.  That has the Shop Talk panel wondering whether journalists should de-emphasize their coverage of police blotter items.  The issue was also recently raised on the website for CJ&N, which is a media market research company.

The Metrics of News

May 2, 2017

Digital platforms provide media organizations with details about their online audiences.  The Shop Talk panelists this week talk about the pros and cons of having that information.

A piece in the Huffington Post bemoans the state of journalism today.  Writer Lorraine Branham, Dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York, said journalism has faltered since the time when the Watergate investigation inspired her and many others to pursue a career in the field. 

For this week's program, News Director Rich Egger spoke with Alex Rodriguez, who's a member of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.  Rodriguez has also worked as a foreign correspondent for the Tribune and he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper.

The Washington Post reported that a group of reporters and editors from a high school newspaper in Kansas started looking into the background of the school's new head principal.  They found some discrepancies in her education credentials, did some more digging, found more problems with her resume, and published their findings.  A few days later, she resigned.

Public radio reporter Jacqui Helbert of WUTC said the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga fired her after being pressured by lawmakers who were upset that she did not identify herself while covering their meeting with a high school group.

The public media magazine Current and other news outlets report President Donald Trump's proposed budget seeks to zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public media outlets such as Tri States Public Radio.

Some local television station newscasts are being anchored by journalists from outside the local market – in some cases, they're not even in the same state. The outsourcing saves money for corporate owners but the Shop Talk panelists feel the audience ends up paying the price.

Let the Sun Shine In

Mar 14, 2017

This is Sunshine Week, which was started more than a decade ago. It promotes and celebrates the idea of open government and the role the media plays in ensuring government transparency.

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