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.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about recent attempts to stifle coverage of potentially significant events.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss why some political candidates try to avoid the media.

An article in American Journalism Review takes Mitt Romney to task for his strategy of conducting few media interviews through much of the campaign (though he has granted more in the past month). The article points out Barack Obama chose in 2008 to avoid questions from Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a recent push to loosen restrictions on ownership rules so that companies can have newspapers, radio stations, and television stations in the same market.

The National Association of Broadcasters filed the petition with the US Supreme Court. The NAB believes companies can improve their financial health by owning multiple news organizations - and that in turn will allow them to invest in more quality reporting.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss CNN's recent decision to fire around 50 staff members, including nearly a dozen photojournalists. The network based its decision on the increasing accessibility of cameras and the growth of citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism can be a useful resource for complementing the work of professionals. It can also provide video from places where a network journalist might not be when news breaks, such as a tornado.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the role reporters should play in analyzing political ads. Many news stories about campaign ads focus on how effective the commercial is but don't explore whether it's truthful.

Panelist Bill Knight believes there is room for both types of coverage. He thinks the main focus should be on whether the ad is truthful. He thinks an ad's effectiveness should be the subject of a sidebar story.

Macomb, IL – The panelists examine why journalism and public relations programs at universities are often closely tied to together.

Journalists and public relations professionals are both in the business of disseminating information. But they have differing philosophies on how that information should be used.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the challenges facing TV's nightly newscasts.

Viewership is still strong for the three major networks, though audience numbers have decreased over the years as the potential sources of news have increased. The around-the-clock news cycle means Americans no longer need to tune in to the nightly news for a digest of what happened in the world.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss media coverage of the scandal at Penn State University.

Former PSU football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is charged with 40 criminal counts of molesting young boys. Legendary head football coach Joe Paterno lost his job as a result of the scandal and the university president was also dismissed.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the "First in Print" or "Only in Print" promotion touted by Gatehouse newspapers. The idea presumably is to sway on-line readers to buy a print copy of the newspaper.

The Shop Talk panelists feel this is a poor idea. They believe news organizations should integrate their stories between platforms rather than trying to compete with themselves by not offering some stories on-line.

Macomb, IL – The panelists talk about NPR's latest snafu -- this one involving "World of Opera" host Lisa Simeone.

The network tried to have Simeone fired for taking a leading role in the Freedom Plaza occupation in Washington DC. NPR has told employees they should not participate in political rallies.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's plan to push for even more access to public records.

Branstad, who is a Republican, said he wants better enforcement of open meetings and open records laws. He says lobbyists representing local governments helped defeat the bill last year.

Branstad also announced all open records requests received by his office will be posted on-line. In addition, his office will detail each was resolved.

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.

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.

Pages