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 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.

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.

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.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether right wing talk radio is dying.

Ratings are down for many such shows. The panelists wonder whether listeners are simply burning out on the format. They point out the shows can become predictable after a while.

Some listeners might be seeking out programs that provide more balance and less biased rhetoric.

The panelists also wonder whether some of the talk show hosts are burning out and running out of things to say.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether the Obama administration is ducking the mainstream media by disseminating its message through on-line methods.

Devin Dwyer of ABC News writes that the White House Press Office produces a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, and a Flickr photo stream. It also uses Facebook and Twitter, plus it produces a mix of daily video programming that includes news-like shows that highlight the president's accomplishments.