WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Shop Talk

Tri States Public Radio's weekly round table discussion of media related issues featuring News Director Rich Egger, WIU Broadcasting Professor Mike Murray and WIU Jounalism Professor Bill Knight.

The Shop Talk panelists discuss last week's presidential debate and whether there is any value to continuing the tradition of holding such events. The debate quickly became a shouting match and provided little insight about the candidates and their positions.

The Shop Talk panelists discuss a recent opinion piece on NPR's website that raises concerns about the long friendship between NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg and the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Patch columnist Mark Konkol wrote that when shots rang out last week at his alma mater – Western Illinois University – no journalists from the student newspaper were available to cover the story. 

Bob Woodward's new book Rage is now available.  In the book, Woodward reports that President Donald Trump expressed early concerns about the severity of the coronavirus.  Yet Woodward waited until just before the release of the book to reveal what the president said.

Poynter reported the Tech & Check Cooperative at the Duke Reporters' Lab used the political conventions in August to work on perfecting its automated fact-checking program, Squash, and its human component, Gardener.

Poynter did some fact checking on the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Poynter found that several widely shared posts on social media make inaccurate, misleading, or unproven claims about Blake, his interaction with police, and the events that followed.  

A piece on the RTDNA's website says local TV news might never be the same due to the coronavirus pandemic.  It notes, among other things, the innovation required to produce stories while working remotely.

The Shop Talk panelists use that as the starting point for their discussion about how the pandemic is changing the way journalism is taught.

A derecho tore through parts of the Midwest, including Iowa and Illinois, on Monday, August 10.  The powerful storm system caused extensive damage, left thousands of people without power, and flattened farm fields.  Yet the national media was slow to pick up the story amd it still has not received a great deal of national attention.

NPR and other news outlets reported that Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai and several executives at the media company he founded were arrested Monday. They were accused of colluding with foreign forces.

Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan's new book is Ghosting the News: American Journalism and the Crisis of Democracy. She writes about the decline of local news coverage; more than 2,000 American newspapers have gone out of business since 2004.

The Pew Research Center reported that a survey it conducted in April found about six-in-ten Americans (61%) said they were following news about the coronavirus outbreak at both the national and local level equally. Around a quarter (23%) said they were paying more attention to news at the local level, while 15% said they were focused more on COVID-19 news at the national level.

The Des Moines Register reported that one of its journalists was arrested in late May while covering a George Floyd protest. The reporter, 24-year old Andrea Sahouri, was covering a demonstration that turned to looting at a mall when a Des Moines police officer pepper-sprayed and arrested her. 

The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, who is also the founder and CEO of Amazon.  His net worth is approximately $153 billion, according to a piece in Columbia Journalism Review. The story said Bezos could bring pay equity to the staff of the newspaper without missing the money required to do so.

RTDNA is calling for the federal government to remove any ambiguity about the right of the public and journalists to record or broadcast live any police officer's activity. The organization said that guaranteeing this right is an important measure of accountability for any agent acting as a public official – especially officers of the law.

As NPR reported recently, President Trump's pick to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Michael Pack, wasted little time after being approved by the U.S. Senate. NPR says Pack swiftly sidelined most of the agency's senior leadership by stripping them of their authority. He also fired the chiefs of the government-sponsored broadcast networks for foreign audiences that his agency oversees.

The Associated Press recently reported that Fox News removed digitally altered photos from its website after the Seattle Times noted misleading images used in the network's coverage about a Seattle neighborhood that's become a protest center against police brutality and racial injustice.

A piece on the Poynter website has the headline: "Journalism educators: It's time for a heart-to-heart about mentoring students of color."  Writer Barbara Allen wrote that we've known for years that we need more people of color in newsrooms. She said journalism educators can play a large role in making that happen.

The Shop Talk panelists discuss news coverage of the police killing of George Floyd and the public demonstrations that followed. They point out police in some of the larger protests have gotten aggressive with journalists; they wonder what police might be trying to hide.

Iowa Starting Line reported that three local Iowa newspapers went out of business due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. The Daily Iowegian in Centerville, the Pella Chronicle, and the Knoxville Journal Express had each published for more than 130 years but have now merged with other papers.

Market Watch reported the U.S. dropped to spot 45 in this year's ranking of countries based on press freedom. The non-government, non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders conducted the survey.

Chicago media critic Robert Feder reported radio talk show host and former TV news reporter Amy Jacobson has been barred from attending Governor J.B. Pritzker's daily coronavirus media briefings after she was one of the speakers at a rally protesting the governor's stay-at-home order.

The winners of the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes were announced last week.  The Shop Talk panelists this week talked about the awards, which are considered among the most prestigious in journalism.

President Donald Trump's daily COVID-19 press briefings included so much incorrect information that some journalists questioned the value of carrying the briefings live. Journalists noted the challenge of fact-checking and correcting his statements in real time.

There was some encouraging media-related news out of Chicago, where more radio listeners are turning to news-intensive stations -- including public radio -- for information during the coronavirus pandemic. However, at the same time, Poynter reports that newsrooms across the nation are laying off staff members or asking them to take pay cuts because ad revenues are down.

Media Literacy

Apr 21, 2020

Poynter reports the coronavirus pandemic has fueled a surge in media literacy efforts. The story said that in India, the United States, and Brazil, fact-checking and media literacy organizations are training citizens to confront the new coronavirus "infodemic." The groups are trying to teach people how to sort through and verify all the information out there.

Columbia Journalism Review ran a piece that takes a look at how right wing media have been covering the coronavirus pandemic.  The story said the coverage was characterized by faulty projections, inflammatory anti-Chinese rhetoric, and over-the-top praise for President Trump.

Facebook has pledged to invest $100 million in the news industry. This is according to an article in The Verge, which said the investment comes at a time when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means that accurate reporting is more important than ever.

The Conversation recently ran a story under the headline: The news media sounded the alarm on coronavirus for months - but few listened. And that begs the question: Why?

Picking up where they left off last week, the Shop Talk panelists share more thoughts about news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.  The panelists say the crisis demonstrates why reliable sources of information are imperative for an informed society, and why owners of media outlets should be investing in journalism instead of cutting staff to maximize profits for a few shareholders.

The Shop Talk panelists share their thoughts on media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.