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 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.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss media coverage of the blizzard that hit the tri states during the first week of February.

Mike Murray said his family relied on Tri States Public Radio for on-air coverage and WGEM for on-line coverage. He found both to be quite good.

Bill Knight, who lives in the Peoria area, said the few remaining local radio stations with news staff did the best job. He was disappointed by local newspapers, which were not delivered until days after the storm hit.

Macomb, IL – The panelists are joined by Alex Degman, who is in his final week on the job as Morning Edition host at Tri States Public Radio.

Degman will begin a job later this month with the Illinois Radio Network, which provides stories to commercial radio stations across the state. Degman will be based in Springfield, where he will report on state government.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss CNN's sagging ratings.

A recent column in American Journalism Review refers to CNN as "a network in disarray" and is highly critical of CNN's prime time line up.

The Shop Talk panelists feel Larry King was not nearly as strong on TV as he was on the radio, yet he held down a prime time spot on CNN for numerous years. CNN's new prime time line up lacks much punch.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss recent examples of well-reported stories.

Bill Knight cites a pair of local stories. One is TeamThrows Dance for Life by Shawna Richter of the Burlington Hawkeye. It's about a teenager who organized a dance to raise money for finding a cure for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her brother suffers from the disease.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the findings of a review into the termination of Juan Williams' contract by NPR.

NPR's Board of Directors worked with the outside legal counsel Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP to gather information.

They found Williams' contract was terminated in accordance with its terms. However, the board agreed to adopt recommendations and remedial measures designed to address issues that came up during the review.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss claims that heated and divisive political rhetoric might have contributed to the shootings at an event held by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Pima County (AZ) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said, "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona, I think, has sort of become the capital."

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a proposed new model for radio and television licensing that would include a "public value test."

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether Wikileaks leader Julian Assange should be considered a journalist.

They generally agree Assange should not be viewed as a reporter. While the information he is making public might be important, he's not doing any reporting - he's simply posting documents to the web.

The panelists feel reporters write stories, provide some context, and focus on the most essential portions of such documents.

Macomb, IL – The panelists criticize a suggestion by US Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) that the FCC do away with Fox and MSNBC.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a decision by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to invite only certain reporters to a briefing about funding for higher education.

Nixon told the invited reporters that he plans to recommend substantial cuts to higher education funding and will also try to prevent colleges and universities from increasing tuition to make up for the loss of state revenue.

The administration claims the meeting was just a briefing to provide background, yet the AP (which was invited to attend) ran a story about it the next day.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss a recommendation by the co-chairs of a presidential commission. The co-chairs say federal funding should be eliminated for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by 2015.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss whether those who work for news organizations should be allowed to donate money to political campaigns.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was suspended by the network after it was discovered he donated to the campaigns of some Democratic politicians. While Olbermann is clearly a partisan commentator rather than a reporter, MSNBC felt he had crossed a line.

Macomb, IL – The panelists explain why they think public employee job evaluations in Illinois should remain open to the public.

Lawmakers passed a measure this year to ensure the evaluations remain open, but Governor Pat Quinn changed the law through an amendatory veto in order to exempt evaluations for law enforcement personnel.

Macomb, IL – The panelists discuss the decision by Los Angeles public television station KCET to drop its affiliation with PBS.

The station had haggled with the network over dues for years. PBS stations in large markets are charged more than those in small markets and KCET management felt their station was being asked to pay too much.

KCET will drop its PBS membership on January 1, 2011.

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