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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.

Blurring the Line Between Journalism & the Media


A piece in the Huffington Post bemoans the state of journalism today.  Writer Lorraine Branham, Dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York, said journalism has faltered since the time when the Watergate investigation inspired her and many others to pursue a career in the field. 

But Branham wrote there is still hope if journalism educators emphasize to students that journalism serves as a watchdog, that reporters stick to facts, and that they should pursue the truth no matter where it takes them.

She also said teachers need to emphasize there is a difference between “the media” and “journalists.”

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss agreed people need to be educated about the difference between bedrock journalism and what is referred to as “media.”  And he said audiences need to be wary of special interest groups that try to look like journalism but are actually just putting their spin on an issue or event.

Buss said people should try to verify stories from unfamiliar sources that show up online. While he suggested people stick to legacy news organizations, he added it’s okay to check out a new outlet on a trial basis – just be sure to closely scrutinize it.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said you can’t go wrong with the legacy news organizations because their stories incorporate solid principles of journalism.  She said those principles don’t change just because a story is on a digital platform rather than in print or on the air.

Crighton said that when seeking news, audiences should look for pieces written by people who are known as reliable journalists rather than trusting someone whose piece just randomly popped up in their Facebook feed. 

Panelist Rich Egger said cable TV news channels try to fill time with talk shows and panel discussions populated by people voicing opinions about the news.  He said that’s not journalism, though some audiences might consider it to be the same as news reporting.

Egger thinks the lines are also blurred when TV anchors make a quick quip or comment at the end of the story to add their two-cents worth.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.