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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.

The Metrics of News


Digital platforms provide media organizations with details about their online audiences.  The Shop Talk panelists this week talk about the pros and cons of having that information.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she created the NEWS3 Facebook page in 2012.  She said 65% of the people who follow the page are women, and the largest age groups are 18-24 and 25-34.  She said it’s great to know the page is appealing to more than just people who are in college. And Crighton said more people follow the station through YouTube and Facebook than via the cable system.

Crighton said the page has also helped reporters find sources for stories and it’s provided an extra outlet for stories to be seen. 

Will Buss said we’re living in an era of data and the Western Courier uses metrics to get an idea of who’s reading the paper and why.  He said the online version of the newspaper reaches a wider audience than the print edition.

Buss said the data provided through digital platforms can be useful in deciding what to cover, though Rich Egger feels media organizations should be careful about allowing data to drive journalism decisions.  He said Tri States Public Radio would be doing a lot more methamphetamine stories if it based reporting decisions on page views and “likes,” and he thinks that is not the best path for TSPR to follow.

All the panelists said it’s interesting to see that people from around the world have clicked on stories from their news organizations.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.