Shop Talk panelist and TSPR News Director Rich Egger recently spoke at a conference about what it is like to report on your boss (i.e., Western Illinois University). Another public radio news director at the conference said he does not report on his host institution even though it receives state money and property tax dollars.
That station, WDCB-FM, is based at the College of DuPage, which has been in the news for several scandals in recent years. But the station’s news director has not reported on any of those stories.
Egger disagreed with that policy. He said he can’t imagine allowing a major story to fall by the wayside because it might offend someone in charge. He said TSPR strives to report on stories that are of interest to the audience.
Egger also said many journalists go into dangerous situations overseas and put their lives on the line to report important stories. He considers that to be much more difficult than reporting on your boss.
Shop Talk panelist Will Buss thinks WDCB is derelict in its duty. He said it is not the news department’s job to protect the school’s image – it’s the news department’s job to inform its audience.
Buss is a former newspaper reporter and had to report a couple times on the newspapers he worked for as they got sold and laid off workers. He said readers deserved to know about the changes and his bosses never told him how to report the stories.
Panelist Patrick Johnson said he teaches his students two major points about journalism:
- You’re obligated to report the truth
- Your loyalty is to the citizens in your audience
He said WDCB is failing in both respects.
Johnson said he is proud of the broadcasting and journalism students at WIU, who he said have stood up to push-back from University Relations after reporting stories that the administration didn’t like.
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.