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 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.

Shop Talk - July 10

Jul 10, 2012

The panelists talk about whether journalism is the best major for students who want to be reporters.

While it might seem obvious that a journalism degree would be best for a reporter, panelist Lisa Kernek points out a broad liberal arts education is required because reporters need to know about a lot of different things. She majored in history and found that provided a good background for being a journalist.

Shop Talk - July 2

Jul 3, 2012

The panelists talk about the possible addition of many more lower power FM (LPFM) stations to the nation's airwaves.

The magazine Current reported the FCC is getting ready to open a filing window for LPFM applications. It would be the first such filing window in more than a decade.

Shop Talk - June 26

Jun 26, 2012

The panelists follow up on last week's discussion about the future of newspapers by talking about the future of public radio.

Minnesota Public Radio journalist Bob Collins questioned in a blog whether public radio is still willing to take risks. He wondered if a program such as A Prairie Home Companion would be given a chance if it were introduced today.

Shop Talk - June 19

Jun 19, 2012

The panelists talk about the New Orleans Times-Picayune's recent decision to cut back to just three print editions per week.  The 175-year old newspaper also handed out pink slips to numerous employees last week.

Panelist Lisa Kernek believes there is a move in the industry toward creating a hybrid between an on-line newspaper and one that's in print. She is saddened by the news out of New Orleans, though she thinks print will not go away.

Shoptalk - June 12

Jun 12, 2012

The panelists talk about the past, present, and future of investigative journalism.

The starting point is the Watergate investigation.  Sunday, June 17, marks the 40th anniversary of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, which started an investigation that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He is the only American president to resign from office.

Shop Talk - June 5

Jun 5, 2012

The panelists talk about Internet radio. Listenership is up about 8% in the past year.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said she listens for programs that she missed and programs that are not carried in this market.

Kernek said research shows more people are using their cell phones to listen to radio in the car and the numbers are expected to continue growing as more people get smart phones.

Shop Talk - May 29

May 29, 2012

The panelists discuss an apology issued by the Associated Press 67 years after the fact.

AP rebuked and then fired correspondent Edward Kennedy after he reported -- a full day ahead of the competition -- that the Germans had unconditionally surrendered in World War II.  Kennedy was one of 17 reporters who witnessed the surrender ceremony. But in exchange for being allowed to see the ceremony, they were barred from reporting on it until authorized by Allied headquarters.

Shop Talk - May 22

May 22, 2012

The panelists talk about a new requirement regarding the political advertising sold by network television stations in the nation's 50 largest markets.

The FCC board voted to have those stations post certain data on-line. That includes information on who bought political ads, when, and how much they paid.

Broadcasters are already required to file the information at their stations but the board feels it will be more accessible if posted on the web.

Shop Talk - May 15

May 15, 2012

The panelists talk about a federal appeals court ruling on Illinois' eavesdropping law.

The Chicago Tribune reports the Seventh Circuit US Court of Appeals in Chicago found the law “likely violates” the First Amendment. The court ordered authorities to stop enforcing it.

The law made it illegal to audio record police officers in public without their consent. Violators faced harsh prison sentences.

The matter became an issue because of the NATO summit scheduled to be held in Chicago on May 20 & 21, 2012.

Shop Talk - May 8

May 8, 2012

The panelists talk about an article on the CareerCast website, which said newspaper reporter and broadcaster are two of the worst jobs of 2012.

The article said, “As the digital world continues to take over and provide on-demand  information, the need for print newspapers and daily newscasts is diminishing. To be sure, both jobs once seemed glamorous, but on-the-job stress, declining job opportunities and income levels are what landed them on our Worst Jobs list.”

Shop Talk - May 1

May 1, 2012

This week's program is about Bill Knight's career and changes in the news industry. In addition, Lisa Kernek joins the panel to replace Knight.

Knight graduated from WIU, went on to be a reporter, and came back to Western to teach in the early 1990s. He never stopped writing and reporting, and will continue to do commentaries on Tri States Public Radio.

Knight said there have been many changes in the newspaper industry over the years. He said the one creating the biggest impact right now is in management.

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