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 whether governments should block social networking sites and messaging services during periods of civil unrest.

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron said the government considered such an action during recent rioting. Police investigated whether Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Messenger were used to encourage rioting.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a Chicago TV station's story that includes a soundbite of a four-year old boy saying, "I'm going to have me a gun."

The boy was interviewed by a freelance photographer at the scene of a drive-by shooting on the city's south side. CBS 2 aired the soundbite without including the followup quote in which the boy explains why he wants a gun: "I'm going to be the police."

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss why they think coverage of America's space program declined over the years.

The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs were extensively covered by the media from the late 1950s through the mid-70s. Coverage of NASA dropped off during the Shuttle missions unless disaster struck.

The panelists say it's possible the public started considering the missions to be routine, even though space travel remains a complicated undertaking.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about the phone hacking scandal involving the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper The News of the World.

Reporters for the paper are accused of hacking into the cell phones of a murdered teenager, the families of British soldiers killed in action, politicians, and celebrities. The 168-year old paper was shut down after the practice was revealed.

Murdoch has refused to take any blame for the scandal, so apparently the adage "The Buck Stops Here" does not apply in his media empire.

Macomb, IL – The panelists criticize the use of aggregation by organizations such as The Huffington Post.

Aggregation is when a news outlet rewrites another organization's story, providing little if any attribution. A writer for Advertising Age recently took The Huffington Post to task over "over-aggregating" one of his stories.

Keokuk, IA – The panelists discuss how the media handled the Casey Anthony trial and the accusations of sexual assault against the now former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

They looked at how court coverage is trending away from a reporter providing accounts of the day-to-day events and more towards pundits offering play-by-play from hundreds of miles away.

The panelists see this leading to people siding with what they hear on the radio, read in the newspaper, or see on television as opposed to making up their own minds.

Keokuk, IA – The panelists talk about an FCC report that concludes that there is a shortage of in-depth, local journalism.

The report says that is the case despite the abundance of news outlets in today's multimedia world.

The panelists see examples of this in their own day-to-day reporting.

They say one reason could be linked to financial difficulties facing radio, TV, and print.

The panelists also point to the fact that there are some people who do not want any local news.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about an FCC report that suggests news outlets could make money from on-line ad tracking.

A story in the Washington DC weekly The Hill said the agency found huge challenges to the future of local news. The FCC said "behavioral advertising" - ie, targeted ads - could play a key role in making hometown journalism profitable.

The panelists recognize the tracking of consumer habits and preferences is happening and will continue. But they don't like it.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a report that looks at how the news media view education, especially higher education.

The article appears in the publication Academe. It contends professors are seen as lazy, they teach just a few classes, and they get paid to do almost nothing.

The panelists feel that perception might exist in popular culture, such as movies and television programs, but is less prevalent in news reporting. In fact, the problem with news coverage of education is that it is almost non-existent.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the role the media played in the days after a devastating tornado tore through Joplin, MO.

It appears many residents relied on radio for information, especially in the hours right after the storm. It's been reported there was no electricity in the city for 24 hours, and land line phones, cell phones, and the Internet were all out of service.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about a possible change to Illinois' open records law that's being criticized by champions of open government.

Lawmakers approved the bill during the waning hours of their 2011 legislative session. Governor Pat Quinn has yet to sign it.

The legislation changes the open records law by allowing cities more time to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filings by so-called "recurrent requesters." Those are people who ask for records more than seven times in a week.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about the White House policy of "faking" photo ops for reporters.

Under the policy, the president broadcasts a major announcement without any distractions from photographers. Once the announcement is completed, the president reads the statement again, this time with the microphones off. Reporters are allowed to take photos at this point.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the future of college radio.

The magazine Current reports some universities have sold their student station to religious broadcasters. Others have turned over operations to their public radio affiliate.

Shop Talk panelist Bill Knight is critical of universities that treat the student station as an asset that can be sold off to generate some revenue. He said the stations serve as an important learning lab for students.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether it's still possible to have a shared national experience over a news story.

The starting point for the discussion is the shooting death of terrorist Osama bin Laden. Many people around the nation found out about his death at roughly the same time, though they got the news from many different sources.

Years ago people generally tuned into the same few TV or radio stations for breaking news. Now, there are countless stations and websites from which someone can obtain news updates.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss what television might be like in 2020.

The launching point for the discussion is a column by Michael Stroud on TheWrap.com. He led a panel discussion on the issue during the recent NAB conference in Las Vegas.

Some possible developments include a la carte programming, vastly improved HD, and TV sets connected to the web.

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