Bradley University athletics recently denied a so-called "extra coverage opportunity" to Peoria Journal Star reporter Dave Reynolds. Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Jason Veniskey and Men's Basketball Coach Brian Wardle reportedly told Reynolds that he failed to "promote the Bradley brand" and was not wanted around the team as it prepared for its first trip to the NCAA tournament in 13 years.
The university later apologized to Reynolds and restored his access to the team. Despite the apology, the Shop Talk crew said Bradley University was clearly out of bounds on the matter.
Panelist Will Buss said Reynolds has been a reliable beat reporter for 29 years. Buss said journalists don’t promote brands and said the university should know there’s no cheering from the press box.
Buss said this is another example of a far-reaching administration trying to protect its image. He said Bradley’s administration seems to lack an understanding of how journalism works.
Panelist Patrick Johnson agreed. He said some people might view sports reporters as an extension of the teams they cover. But he said that’s not how journalism works. He said it’s not the job of a reporter to promote a brand or provide public relations for the school.
Johnson said the university did not apologize until it faced a backlash for its actions.
Panelist Rich Egger said it’s nothing new for sports writers and broadcasters to face the wrath of those they cover. He said baseball announcer Harry Caray often “told it like it is” and, as a result, was occasionally confronted by angry managers and/or players.
Egger agreed that university administrations and others sometimes don’t grasp the role that journalists play. He said TSPR has been subjected to erroneous rants from those who think the station should be cheerleading for Western Illinois University. He said journalists don’t strive to make anyone look good or bad – they strive to make sure the audience is informed.
Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion. This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University and advises the student editors at the Western Courier; Patrick Johnson, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at WIU and advises Western’s student radio station WIUS/The Dog; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.