WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The News Takes No Holidays

Nov 22, 2016

News outlets in recent years have reported on retail workers who are required to be on the job instead of getting to be with their families on Thanksgiving. Ironically, we hear those stories because reporters also work on Thanksgiving (and many other holidays) -- and without the same fuss.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger said newsrooms need to be staffed – or reporters at least need to be on call – every day because you never know when a big story will break.  He pointed out Chicago Mayor Harold Washington died the day before Thanksgiving in 1987, forcing the city’s reporters to put down their knives and forks in favor of notepads and pens.

Panelist Will Buss said he did Black Friday stories for many years as a reporter in the St. Louis area, where he covered business, the economy, and consumer news. He said Black Friday coverage required him to get up quite early the day after Thanksgiving to talk to shoppers.

Egger questioned whether audiences pay much attention anymore to Black Friday stories or if the stories are just filler for a slow news day.

Buss said the stories almost always guaranteed him a front page story the next day, though he agreed the Black Friday shopping frenzy is no longer the anomaly it was in the past.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said Thanksgiving weekend is normally a slow time in the news, which is why Black Friday gets so much attention. Crighton said when she produced a morning show in Ohio, Black Friday gave her access to more reporters than normal because the show needed to go live from several shopping meccas.

But Crighton agreed it’s rare for any real news to come out of Black Friday.