Loyola University in Chicago insists that reporters with the student newspaper set up on-campus interviews through the school's communications spokesperson. The Shop Talk crew feels the university is trying to control the student journalists rather than help them.
Panelist Jasmine Crighton said it appears the administration is trying to give itself a heads up about stories that might reflect poorly on the school. Crighton said she’s encountering the same problem at Western Illinois University, where members of the university relations office want journalists to funnel interview requests through them.
Crighton also said one of her student reporters was asked recently to submit questions before interviewing a WIU administrator. The student complied before Crighton could stop him. She then instructed the student to be prepared to ask follow up questions and not limit himself to the questions submitted in advance.
Panelist Will Buss also feels the Loyola administration is trying to track the work done by student reporters. He said audiences should be skeptical of institutions that throw roadblocks in front of information.
Buss agrees that WIU’s administration is trying to enforce a policy similar Loyola’s. He said the more senior editors and reporters on the Western Courier’s staff often know who they need to contact for a story – in some cases they know the professor personally – and shouldn’t need to run an interview request past the university relations office.
Panelist Rich Egger said imprisoned former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration required reporters to funnel interview requests through his office before they could talk to representatives from agencies and departments throughout the state. He questioned why any public entity would want to follow in the footsteps of that administration.
Shop Talk is a panel discussion featuring Jasmine Crighton, News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University; Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at WIU and advises the student editors at the Western Courier; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.