WIUM Tristates Public Radio

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 Shop Talk panelists discuss whether journalism is a profession that’s becoming dominated by elites.

The conversation was sparked by an MSNBC piece: How lower-income Americans are shut out of journalism. The article points out how future success in journalism can depend on attending the right college and making the right connections.  Such opportunities are not always available to those from low income backgrounds.

Nova & Drones

Feb 12, 2013

The Shop Talk panelists discuss complaints about a Nova special about drones that was underwritten by Lockheed Martin, which is a drone manufacturer.

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) complained the situation violated PBS’s guidelines concerning sponsorship and conflicts of interest.

The panelists talk about the report, “The Future of Mobile News,” which is the subject of an article on the Journalists Resource website.

The panelists discuss recent concerns about a doctored photo posted to US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Flickr site.

A piece by the Radio Television Digital News Association reported that Pelosi gathered 57 of the 61 Democratic women now in Congress for a photo on the Capitol steps. By the time the image appeared on the Flickr site, the missing women had been included through the use of Photoshop.

The panelists discuss a newspaper’s decision to publish the names and addresses of gun permit holders.

The information is considered public record – the same as marriages, births, real estate transactions, etc. But The Journal News of Westchester County, NY, did not print the gun permit data until after the school shootings in Newtown, CT. The timing of the decision angered those who believe it cast gun permit holders in a negative light and violated their privacy.

The panelists discuss whether the audience deserves to know more about reporters – and how much information might be too much.

The New York Times covered the issue in a piece by Margaret Sullivan. She wrote, “Journalists can let readers get to know their backgrounds, their personalities and how they do their jobs.”  She also quoted the author David Weinberger, who said, “Transparency is the new objectivity.”

The panelists talk about plans by the Tribune Company to sell its newspapers – including the Chicago Tribune – and focus on its cable television network.

The report from Reuters said the company’s Board of Directors includes many former TV executives, who are expected to soon begin the process of selling most, if not all, of the Tribune-owned newspapers as the company emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The panelists discuss a Washington Post article about how local TV stations across the country end up broadcasting the identical story.

The panelists discuss whether media organizations should start using drones in their reporting, especially of breaking news.

Vince Duffy, Chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association, writes about drones in a recent column. He pointed out it is much cheaper to buy a drone than pay for a helicopter and pilot. The tool is already being used by some news organizations.

The panelists discuss a US Supreme Court ruling on whether people can record Illinois police officers performing their duties in public.

The AP reports the high court went along with a lower court ruling that found the state’s anti-eavesdropping law violates free speech rights when used against people who make audio recordings of law enforcement officers.

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.

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 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.

The panelists talk about attempts by Chicago Public Radio to report on conditions at two minimum security prisons in southern Illinois.

The panelists discuss whether online paywalls are changing the way reporters write their stories.

A piece by Tim Burrowes in Encore magazine points out print journalists have traditionally been taught to follow the story pyramid, in which the most important facts are included at the very beginning of the story, with less and less important details lower in the story. This allowed editors to ax the bottom of the story if the space was needed for another story or an ad.

The panelists talk about reporters who plagiarize and/or make up quotes and other details.

The issue is in the new after Jonah Lehrer resigned from the New Yorker. About a month ago he admitted taking material from his earlier pieces for more recent work. Now it's been revealed that his new book includes fabricated quotes by Bob Dylan.

The Internet is making it easier to double check reporters' work, which causes panelist Lisa Kernek to question why reporters think they will not get caught. Panelist Mike Murray suggests hubris might be at play.

The panelists talk about hyperlocal news coverage and The New York Times' decision to end its affiliation with a couple hyperlocal blogs.

Hyperlocal news coverage reports stories down to the neighborhood level. One of the concerns with the idea is whether there is enough money to support such coverage.

Shop Talk Panelist Mike Murray said his father edited a small town newspaper that included news from a variety of tiny communities in the region. It could be considered an early version of what is now referred to as hyperlocal coverage.

Shop Talk - July 17

Jul 17, 2012

The panelists discuss whether Facebook attracts narcissists or turns users into narcissists.

The New York Times' Tara Parker-Pope raised the issue in a recent blog. She refers to a study by Christopher Carpenter, Associate Professor of Communication at Western Illinois University, which suggested Facebook appeals to our most narcissistic tendencies.

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