WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Working Conditions "Problematic" for Reporters in the U.S.

Apr 23, 2019

NPR recently reported on a study by the group Reporters Without Borders, which found the United States has become a less safe place for journalists.  The group dropped the U.S. to No. 48 out of 180 on its annual World Press Freedom Index, which is three spots lower than its place last year.

The U.S. had been considered a "satisfactory" place to work as a journalist.  Now it’s considered a "problematic" place for journalists.

Shop Talk panelist Patrick Johnson said he is not surprised by the findings. He said journalists have dealt with anti-reporter rhetoric for years from those who don’t like it when the truth is reported.

Johnson is glad the study came out because it shows that attacks on journalism don’t happen only in other countries – they also happen in the U.S. And he said such attacks are detrimental to society.

Panelist Will Buss said some Americans don’t seem to understand what role journalists play in society. He said reporters strive to bring information to light but some people claim a bias when they don’t like what’s being reported.

Buss said it’s nothing new for politicians to throw the media under the bus when journalists report something unfavorable.

Panelist Rich Egger said journalists are often criticized for having a liberal bias though no supporting evidence is provided.  But people are willing to believe such nonsense because it’s been repeated so much.

Egger also pointed out the Reporters Without Borders study said President Donald Trump’s rhetoric has contributed to making the U.S. less safe for journalists. Among other things, Trump has called journalists “enemies of the people.”

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.