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.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the uproar over plans to build an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero in New York City. How or why did this become such a big story in the mainstream media?

Bill Knight believes two factors played a role. One is demagoguery. The other is that many reporters were lazy or had an agenda. Knight says there was a pack journalism mindset.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the decision by a North Carolina public TV station to hand over a reporter's materials to a legislative panel.

The case is the subject of an article in the magazine Current, which covers public broadcasting in the United States.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about media coverage of the settlement reached between Western Illinois University and former head football coach Don Patterson.

WIU Athletics issued a news release last September stating Patterson elected to step down due to health reasons - he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. But Patterson says the release was filled with fabricated quotes and misinformation. He says doctors gave him a clean bill of health last year.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about the irresponsible video circulated by right wing blogger Andrew Breitbart.

The video was altered to make it appear as though the USDA's Shirley Sherrod - who is black - acknowledged during a speech to the NAACP that she had discriminated against a white farmer. The piece was picked up by Fox News, other news outlets followed Fox's lead, and the resulting uproar cost Sherrod her job.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about a corporate power grab regarding the Internet.

Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Google want to do away with the net neutrality, which is the concept that anyone can post anything on-line without seeking permission. The companies have been meeting with the FCC to push their plan, which would favor bigger, richer, and more powerful interests.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about an apparent increase in the number of people arrested for filming police in action in public places.

The online magazine Gizmodo says the legal justification for arresting the "shooter" rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws.

However, in most states, there is "no expectation of privacy" while someone is in a public place such as a park or a street. These states generally require just one person (for example, the photographer) to consent to the filming.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about ESPN's cozy relationship with NBA All-Star LeBron James.

James used the network to announce he would sign with the Miami Heat. The panelists feel ESPN did a poor job of reporting before the announcement. Rampant speculation replaced the idea of sticking to the facts.

In addition, ESPN's Stuart Scott and Jim Gray did little more than suck up to James. Both are an embarrassment to journalism.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about a national survey that indicates the Internet is now considered the most essential medium in the lives of Americans, edging past TV for the first time.

Arbitron and Edison Research conducted the survey of 1,750 people across the country. It was the 12th annual study.

42% of the Americans surveyed said the Internet is most essential to their lives (it's not clear how "essential" was defined for the survey). 37% named TV, 14% considered radio most essential, and just 5% chose newspapers.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about the Rolling Stone article about General Stanley McChrystal and the resulting media frenzy that led to his firing.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about coverage of the severe storms that rumbled through the region on June 21.

It appears a lightning strike knocked Tri States Public Radio off the air just before 7:00pm. The station was about to go live with a report from Alex Degman, who was watching a wall cloud just west of Macomb.

The panelists laud WGEM-TV for its wall-to-wall coverage. The station performed a public service by dropping its regular programming in favor of providing a constant stream of updated information about the storms.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about news coverage of the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

The disaster is often referred to as an oil "spill." But given the amount of oil pouring into the Gulf, "spill" seems to be a rather mild description.

BP workers and clean up crews have been instructed not to speak to reporters. The panelists think that prevents the public from knowing the true extent of the problem.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about longtime journalist Helen Thomas, who abruptly retired Monday after making controversial remarks about Israelis.

In a video recorded May 27, Thomas says Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine." She suggested they should go to Germany, Poland or the US. She has since apologized for the comments, which quickly made their way across the Internet.

The 89-year Thomas was the head of the White House press corps. She was well known for her confrontational and tough questioning.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about the images used in news reports and whether certain photos and/or videos should not be shown.

Some news consumers complained about the bodies shown in coverage of the Haiti earthquake. They questioned whether similar photos would be shown if a deadly quake struck in the United States.

Newsrooms often debate whether an image is suitable for the audience. The panelists believe journalists should err on the side of sharing the facts, even if that means showing a disturbing image.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether television stations should post stories to YouTube. The issue was raised by columnist Deborah Potter in the latest issue of American Journalism Review.

Many TV stations already post video to their own websites with the hope of generating traffic for on-line ads. Some stations fear that posting video to YouTube will lead to fewer hits on their sites.

The panelists suggest TV stations work on becoming better at what they do before worrying about where their stories are seen.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether the Midwest sometimes gets overlooked by the national news media.

Patrick Stout of the McDonough County Voice raised the issue in a column after President Obama's visit to the tri-states this spring. Stout wrote that major websites hardly mentioned anything about the President's activities.