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Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion about journalism issues. 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, the students at student radio station The Dog, and the WIU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists; Rajvee Subramanian, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.

Reporter Fired Despite Accuracy


The Shop Talk panelists discuss the case of a newspaper sports reporter in Massachusetts who was fired for including in his story a quote that made a couple local schools look bad.

Poynter Online reported Isaac Avilucea was let go even though his story was reviewed by one of the paper’s editors before it went to print. Avilucea has acknowledged he paraphrased one of the lines in the story without attributing it to the source, though he pointed out no red flags were raised during the editorial process.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Garcia said reporters paraphrase sources all the time. She feels Avilucea could have done a better job of making it clear where the line came from, but added the newspaper dropped the ball on a teachable moment.

Panelist Lisa Kernek believes the editor needs to develop a backbone – he should not have caved in and fired the reporter just because the story angered some school administrators and parents.  She said the paper should have run a correction or clarification if there was a problem with the story.

Kernek said she received a great piece of advice early in her career: work for a courageous editor because young reporters are bound to get flack for some of their stories.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.