UNION, NJ - Political leaders and members of the media came to gather to discuss the changing trends in media reporting on Tuesday at Kean University.  State Assemblyman Jon Bramnick led a bipartisan panel to discuss the impact of new media on elected officials.

The panel consisted of former Governors Jim McGreevey and Don DiFrancesco, Union County Sheriff Joe Cryan, journalist and political correspondent at NJTV Michael Aaron, CEO/Publisher of TAPinto.net Mike Shapiro, blogger Art Gallagher and reporter Chase Brush from PolitickerNJ.

The panel focused on the issue of instant reporting and how social media has changed over the past 20 years. The politicians seemed to agree that in the past, the general media had given them a bad rap with negative publicity and at times even publishing satirical cartoons about them. 

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Bramnick asked questions such as, “When it comes to the media, is anything off limits?” Cryan replied "no!" and McGreevey replied, “no, and it’s sad.”

Cryan said that in the past, “the Star Ledger has said some of the most vicious, vile things about myself and others with no accountability.” 

Shapiro said, “on a local level, there are over 200 communities with no newspaper at all” and that TAPinto has helped fill the void created by the cutbacks at local hardcopy newspapers.  He continued that TAPinto has no editorial page and that, “[w]e cover both sides of every issue.” 

Regarding the issue of the media disproportionately covering bad news in the quest for higher pageviews, Brush said, “Is two people fighting good for more views? Are they being fair?” He continued, “...[w]e leave it to the reader to choose. They decide. If they don’t like it they will not return to the site. There are certain brands that cater to the scandalous, but we try to keep it fair.”

When Bramnick asked, “What is the Role of Media?” McGreevey replied, “Shining light in dark places.”  Cryan said, “To report the news but not to create the news, and to be fair and balanced.”

Cryan also complimented the “high quality material and high quality reporting" by sites such as PolitickerNJ and TAPinto.