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 Racist Tweet

Jul 23, 2019

Some news organizations – including NPR and Columbia Journalism Review -- labeled President Trump's tweet about four Democratic congresswomen as "racist." Other outlets were more cautious in their approach, using terms such as "racially charged" and "racist trope."

Financier and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is charged with sex trafficking.  And Politico quoted a federal prosecutor as saying "We were assisted by some excellent investigative journalism," specifically citing the Miami Herald series "Perversion of Justice" by reporter Julie K. Brown.  That’s the starting point for this week's discussion on Shop Talk.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a commentary that states President Donald Trump crossed a line when he accused the New York Times of treason.  The piece noted that the nation’s founders considered treason the gravest of crimes and that tossing around the charge is irresponsible and wrong.

A central Illinois TV weatherman lost his job after he criticized the station’s "Code Red" weather alerts for failing to align with the storm warning language used by the National Weather Service.  WICS meteorologist Joe Crain called "Code Red" a corporate initiative.

The Illinois News Broadcasters Association, the RTDNA, and other journalism groups are criticizing a new policy implemented by Marilyn Hite Ross, who is the new state's attorney in Winnebago County in northern Illinois. The policy dictates that journalists seeking to interview her must submit their questions ahead of time. She will immediately end any interview if a reporter deviates from the approved list of questions.

The Trump administration recently filed new charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.  The charges fall under the 1917 Espionage Act and are connected to the 2010 publication of secret documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Wikileaks also published secret documents related to diplomatic communications regarding dozens of nations. 

Journalists Rate Their Newsrooms

Jun 12, 2019

The Shop Talk panel discusses a recent article in Columbia Journalism Review.  It’s about a former reporter, 27-year old Valeria Sistrunk, who has created (as she puts it) “a tool to come and tell the truth.”

The Army Commits an Act of Journalism

Jun 4, 2019

NPR reported that the U.S. Army issued a tweet ahead of Memorial Day weekend with a question for service members and veterans: "How has serving impacted you?"  Soon, thousands of responses began flooding in.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that police raided the home of freelance journalist and videographer Bryan Carmody in response to allegations that he leaked a police report into the death of the city's public defender. Carmody has declined to release the name of the source who gave him the report

The Illinois Times reported State Journal-Register Editor Angie Muhs was escorted out of the building by the paper's general manager after she submitted her resignation. The Times reported the paper's entire newsroom staff accompanied them to demonstrate support for Muhs, who resigned after five years in Springfield.

Law Day was observed on May 1. This year’s theme was "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society." Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier addressed the theme in a piece shared with media outlets, and media attorney Don Craven talked about the topic during a presentation to a central Illinois bar association.

Poynter recently posted a list of 515 "unreliable" news websites.  Poynter said the list was built from pre-existing databases compiled by journalists, fact-checkers, and researchers.  But the organization withdrew the list after receiving complaints from those on the list and others who objected to the inclusion of certain sites.

Shop Talk panelist and TSPR News Director Rich Egger recently spoke at a conference about what it is like to report on your boss (i.e., Western Illinois University).  Another public radio news director at the conference said he does not report on his host institution even though it receives state money and property tax dollars.

NPR recently reported on a study by the group Reporters Without Borders, which found the United States has become a less safe place for journalists.  The group dropped the U.S. to No. 48 out of 180 on its annual World Press Freedom Index, which is three spots lower than its place last year.

Scientific American recently conducted a study that found newspaper closures are linked to partisanship. The publication used voting data from across the country over a four year period.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week that a group of House Republican lawmakers in Georgia filed legislation to create a state Journalism Ethics Board. The newspaper reported the board would create "canons of ethics," issue advisory opinions, develop voluntary accreditation, and set up a system for investigating complaints and sanctioning accredited violators of such canons.

The Guardian reported Facebook's effort to establish a service that provides users with local news and information is being hindered by the lack of outlets where the company's technicians can find original reporting.

Bradley University athletics recently denied a so-called "extra coverage opportunity" to Peoria Journal Star reporter Dave Reynolds.  Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Jason Veniskey and Men's Basketball Coach Brian Wardle reportedly told Reynolds that he failed to "promote the Bradley brand" and was not wanted around the team as it prepared for its first trip to the NCAA tournament in 13 years.

Let the Sun Shine In

Mar 19, 2019

Many journalism groups across the county observed Sunshine Week last week.  Sunshine Week serves as a reminder of the role journalists play as watchdogs in ensuring open and transparent government. 

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) reported that Craig Forman, the President and CEO of the publishing company McClatchy, recently emailed employees to let them know 450 staffers will be offered early retirement.  CJR also reported that Forman's take-home pay from McClatchy in 2017 was $1.7 million, excluding restricted stock. And his newest contract with the company includes a base pay of $1 million, a bonus of $1 million, and an additional $35,000 monthly stipend.

Jasmine Crighton joined the Shop Talk panel in August 2013.  This week she recorded her final program, which focused on the latest Status of Women in the U.S. Media report.

Shop Talk panelists Jasmine Crighton and Will Buss talk about some of the training they provide to students in their news reporting and writing classes.

GateHouse Media reportedly refused to run a column titled "Media Under Siege" that, among other things, criticized the company.  The piece was written by Randy Miller, who retired from the Hawk Eye in Burlington a few years ago.  He continued to write a column for the paper but – due to the "Media Under Siege" piece -- it appears his contributions are no longer welcome.

A video taken in Washington D.C. on January 18 appears to show white high school students from Kentucky mocking a Native American man. Some of the high school students are wearing red "Make America Great Again" caps. The video went viral on social media, and numerous news media outlets picked up the story even though none had a reporter on the scene. In the following days, the narrative of what happened that day in D.C. changed as more video was released.

On the day after the nation honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Shop Talk panel discussed the issue of diversity in the newsroom.  Panelist Jasmine Crighton shared some information she gathered last week at a workplace integrity seminar in Washington D.C.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said she recently filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Western Illinois University.  Crighton told the Shop Talk panel she filed the FOIA to obtain data her students might use for a story. She also filed the request so that she could talk about the FOIA process with her students.  She was surprised by what happened next.

An article on the RTDNA website said local news is not dying if you look to TV.  Kevin Mott, who is a Program Analyst at the Stanton Foundation, writes in the piece that local television news has demonstrated growing revenue, stable employment, and robust viewership. 

As NPR and other news outlets reported, Time has chosen a group of four journalists and the Capital Gazette as its "Person of the Year" for 2018.  The magazine praised them for their work in the so-called "war on truth."

The Student Press Law Center reported that an Arkansas school district censored a high school student newspaper and halted its publication after the paper's reporters raised questions about the transfer of six football players to a rival high school.  The district eventually bowed to public pressure and criticism from journalism organizations and allowed the story to be published.