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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.

Serving a Community without a Local Staff

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The FCC has proposed eliminating the main studio rule, which requires AM, FM, and TV stations to have a studio in or near the community they serve and to have a locally staffed office.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said the rule was established to ensure community members could go to a station to give input, and to encourage stations to participate in community activities. 

Crighton acknowledged community members can now give input electronically. But she said there are media outlets in this region that no longer have local news staff and she thinks that harms communities.  Crighton also thinks the proposal will have a negative impact on local journalism.

Panelist Rich Egger does not like the proposed change.  He thinks there is still a place for face-to-face interactions between station staff members and their audiences. And he thinks the best way for stations to serve a community and know what’s going on is by having staff members who work and live there.

Panelist Will Buss finds the FCC’s proposal disconcerting.  He said reporters can’t cover communities simply by sitting in the newsroom and answering the phones.  They have to go out – both during and after work hours – to find out what matters to people in the community. 

Buss also said local newspapers are harmed when they’re bought by chains that require stories to be edited at a central location – places that are sometimes hundreds of miles away.  He said editors at those far-away locations don’t have the inside knowledge to make a local story better.

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.