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.

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.

The Boston Business Journal reported the parent company of GateHouse Media is once again talking about cutting expenses at the same time as it's talking about buying up more local newspapers across the country.

NPR's Sarah McCammon recently wrote a piece for Nieman Reports that recommends media outlets hire more journalists who work outside major cities.  McCammon grew up in the Midwest and her career includes a stint at Iowa Public Radio.  

Dog Breeds & Semantics

Feb 21, 2017

Macomb police recently shot a dog after it charged and apparently attacked an officer.  The detective who discussed the case with reporters said the animal was a "pit bull," but Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said pit bull is a common name used to describe at least four formal breeds of dogs.  She questioned whether it's correct to use the term pit bull.

Many newsroom staffs have been cut in the past 15 or 20 years.  That makes it more difficult for the remaining reporters to do their job, which includes fact-checking politicians.

The Trump administration spent its first two weeks in power belittling the media. The Shop Talk panelists say they've never seen a presidential administration direct so much venom toward journalists. Even the Nixon White House was less combative than the current administration.

The Shop Talk panelists this week continue their discussion about fake and misleading news.

The Shop Talk panelists will spend the next couple weeks discussing "news" stories that are deliberately misleading or contain poor reporting.  The starting point for their discussion regards the home page editor of the Washington Post, Doris Truong.

President-elect Donald Trump last week held his first news conference in about six months.  The Shop Talk panelists don't like the way it was conducted.

A Florida TV station had its live New Year's Eve coverage interrupted by a young man who ran in front of the camera and shouted a derogatory comment about women. 

The Associated Press recently issued guidelines for referring to the "alt-right."  Among other things, the wire service suggested, "Whenever 'alt-right' is used in a story, be sure to include a definition: 'an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism,' or, more simply, 'a white nationalist movement.'"

A Michigan television station is suing a young journalist who left the station just one year into his four year contract.  The reporter countered by saying the station is being punitive and engaged in discriminatory practices.

People of all political stripes complain the media did a poor job of covering the 2016 presidential election.  But it seems just about everyone has a different idea of who is part of the media.

Staging the News

Nov 29, 2016

A photo shows ABC News staged a live shot by placing yellow police tape behind a reporter who was at a crime scene. The tape was tied to two camera stands, which were kept out of the network's camera shots.

News outlets in recent years have reported on retail workers who are required to be on the job instead of getting to be with their families on Thanksgiving. Ironically, we hear those stories because reporters also work on Thanksgiving (and many other holidays) -- and without the same fuss.

President Barack Obama promised when he took office to be open and transparent, but his administration has been anything but open and transparent. Might reporters expect more of the same from the administration of President-elect Donald Trump?

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