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 media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

They feel the mainstream media was slow to react to the protests, and panelist Mike Murray believes many news organizations continue to give short shrift to the movement. He compares the coverage to the way the media portrayed Vietnam War protesters during the late 1960s and early '70s.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a $4.1 million Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to American Public Media for expanding its network of "citizen sources."

The Associated Press reports the grant will be funded over two years. The money will be used to add 100,000 more people to APM to share information with more than 50 newsrooms. The "citizen sources" will help beef up coverage from courthouse and statehouses.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss an Illinois judge's ruling that the state's eavesdropping law is unconstitutional as applied to a particular case.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Michael Allison was accused of violating a city ordinance by fixing old cars on his front lawn. He faced up to 75 years in prison for recording conversations with police officers who he claimed were harassing him.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about the Online News Association and its annual conference.

American Journalism Review's article previewing the conference is headlined, "For the Online News Association, the Future Is Now." The article notes the phrase "future of" was banned at this year's conference.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a federal court ruling on the Green Party's lawsuit against Chicago public television station WTTW.

The Green Party sued after WTTW chose not to include the party's candidates for governor and the US Senate in televised debates during the 2010 elections. The Green Party is recognized as an established political party in Illinois but the station only invited the Democratic and Republican party nominees.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's decision to sign House Bill 1716, which rolls back some of the improvements made just a couple years ago to the state's Freedom of Information Act.

Quinn signed the 2009 reforms during a public ceremony. He signed the measure that weakens FOIA in private on a Friday afternoon.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the consequences to communities when newspaper consolidation results in a few regional newspapers instead of local papers.

Panelist Bill Knight is concerned that such consolidations will harm small communities, much as they're harmed when the local post office or school closes. He thinks the change will impact news judgment.

Macomb, IL – The Fairness Doctrine has been removed from the books in the United States. The panelists discuss the significance of the action.

The Fairness Doctrine was introduced in 1949 to ensure that broadcasters offered honest and balanced discussion of controversial issues. Such a rule was never imposed on newspapers.

The FCC has not enforced the Fairness Doctrine since the 1980s but the rule remained on the books until it was officially eliminated this month.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the University of Iowa's decision to stop offering a professional Master's degree program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The program recently did not receive accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. But panelist Bill Knight believes the school chose to drop the program in order to save money.

The 22 students currently enrolled in the program will be allowed to complete their degrees.

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.

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