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 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 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.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about Illinois House Bill 3500, which would bar the public release of information about who owns FOID cards in the state.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a report that says USA Today is considering whether to pay annual bonuses to writers based on page views.

The panelists feel such a move would cheapen the product. Reporters would be tempted to write misleading headlines to increase page views, or they might skip certain stories altogether to instead report on the sensational.

The panelists also point out that a page hit does not necessarily mean someone read the story or got anything out of it.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss how they think social media should be used by journalists.

Bill Knight said social media can be used as a tool to receive tips about stories. It can also be used to promote stories. He said reporters should simply remember to maintain a sense of professionalism.

Mike Murray also said reporters need to be professional, but added he is not a big fan of social media. He is concerned some reporters might editorialize, thus compromising the way they're viewed.

Macomb, IL – The New York Times and other newspapers are preparing to set up pay walls for on-line content. The panelists debate whether that is a good idea.

Mike Murray believes it does not make sense to start charging people for something that has been free for a number of years. He considers it a poor business model.

Macomb, IL – NPR's Cheryl Corley joins the panelists to talk about her job as a Midwest reporter for the network's national desk. She covers a 12 state region.

Corley said she tries to read papers from all 12 states to come up with story ideas. Her editor also suggests story ideas.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a lawsuit filed by an NBA referee, who is suing The Associated Press and one of its sports writers over a Twitter message.

Writer Jon Krawczynski tweeted that referee William Spooner made a bad call against the Houston Rockets in order to make for an earlier bad call against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Spooner claimed his professional reputation has been hurt.

A representative from the NBA said the league investigated the tweet, found it to be without substance, and considered the matter closed.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether media outlets should be forced to reveal identifying information about those who post comments to on-line forums.

The discussion stems from a defamation lawsuit in Indiana, where a judge ruled such information should be released.

The panelists agree that those who offer comments in a public forum should be held accountable for what they say. As a result, it might be wise for media outlets to assign someone to review comments before they're posted.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a contract proposal from the owners of WEEK-TV and WHOI-TV in Peoria, who want permission to outsource local news coverage.

Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star reported that members of the news staffs at the TV stations are speaking out against the proposal. They believe local news should be covered by local reporters.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the dangers journalists sometimes face - even when covering stories in the US.

A photojournalist and reporter in California were attacked outside a restaurant while covering an impromptu memorial for a murder victim. The photojournalist was pulled to the ground by her hair and kicked in the head.

Also recently, a reporter in Michigan was attacked while reporting on the aftermath of a highway accident. She was attacked while at a towing yard.