Shop Talk

Tri States Public Radio's weekly round table discussion of media related issues featuring News Director Rich Egger and fellow panelists Jasmine Crighton, News Coordinator for the Western Illinois University Department of Broadcasting, and Jonathan Ahl, General Manager for TSPR.

The panelists talk about the future of journalism, focusing on one particular start up that has enjoyed some success.

An article in Columbia Journalism Review labels This Land Press as “…perhaps the best for-profit local journalism startup in the country…” The article said This Land is on pace to turn a profit by next spring, just a couple years after it started.

The panelists talk about the challenges journalists face when so many public relations specialists are working to put their own spin on events.

The panelists discuss news coverage of the results of the 2012 presidential election.

Much of the discussion centers around Republican consultant and Fox commentator Karl Rove’s insistence on election night that Fox was jumping the gun by declaring President Barack Obama had won Ohio and thus earned enough electoral votes to be re-elected.

The panelists credit Fox for sticking with its projections – which proved to be correct. Ultimately reporting won out over partisan spin.

The panelists talk about a study that found Americans used nearly every news platform available in the weeks before the November 6 election.

The study was done by the Pew Research Center.  It said the biggest gains came on the Internet – both to the websites of traditional news sources and those native to the web. Television was found to be the most useful source of campaign news.

The panelists discuss an experiment at the University of Toronto to turn experts into journalists rather than journalists into experts.

The Shop Talk panelists discuss Newsweek’s decision to publish its final print edition on December 31. After that the weekly magazine will be available only in digital formats.

The magazine was first published 80 years ago. Reuters reports the digital version will be called Newsweek Global. There will be a single, worldwide version.  

The panelists discuss whether public radio underwriters should be allowed to have their spots linked to particular stories and other news projects.

The panelists talk about Wisconsin television news anchor Jennifer Livingston, who took on a viewer who called her fat.

Livingston said she exchanged several e-mails with occasional viewer Kenneth Krause before she made her case on the air. She gave a four minute editorial – speaking directly to Krause – in which she addressed weight and bullying.

30 Years of USA Today

Oct 2, 2012

The panelists talk about the past and future of USA Today, which recently marked its 30th anniversary.

Panelist Lisa Kernek points out the paper was widely scorned by journalists – but it was also widely imitated. USA Today influenced the industry by making papers more appealing visually and more reader-friendly.

Panelist Mike Murray said it was designed to appeal to the generations raised on television – its color photos and short stories made it a sort of newspaper version of a TV newscast.

The panelists discuss the practice of quote approval in exchange for access to sources.  Some journalists allow sources to read and approve quotes before a story is published.

David Carr of the New York Times wrote about the practice in a piece with the headline "The Puppetry of Quotation Approval." He wrote, "What pops out of that process isn't exactly news and isn't exactly a news release, but contains elements of both."

The panelists discuss a proposal to create an alternative American communications system. The catch is that the idea was suggested by University of California - Berkeley Professor Robert Cirino in 1977.

Cirino developed his plan at a time when cable was in its infancy and the Internet could only be found in science fiction.

The panelists discuss whether it's imperative to get both sides of the story every time a reporter covers an issue.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said it's more important to verify facts and be transparent about how the facts are obtained. She said reporters should strive to get at the truth in an objective way. Kernek said it's not as simple as giving equal amounts of space or time to both sides.

The panelists discuss Congressional Correspondent Andrea Seabrook's recent decision to leave NPR.  She talked about her frustrations with the job in a recent edition of On The Media.

The Metrics of Reporting

Aug 28, 2012

The panelists talk about whether it's possible to measure the impact of journalism.

An article by Jonathan Stray on the Nieman Journalism Lab's website raises the question. “If democracy would be poorer without  journalism, then journalism must have some effect. Can we measure  those effects in some way?” writes Stray.

He reports a fellowship program at the New York Times will try to find the right metric for news. 

The panelists talk about the trend toward hyperlocal coverage for small radio stations.

An article in the Naperville Sun highlighted several stations in the Fox River Valley that have succeeded by focusing on their own specific community rather than trying to attract the larger audience that's possible in the Chicago area.  Station personnel feel they know their listeners -- and their listeners know them.