Journalists aren’t happy that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is planning to launch a state-run, taxpayer-funded news outlet that would compete with the local media.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Pence is planning to launch “Just IN,” a website and news outlet that will feature stories and news releases written by state press secretaries, and which is being overseen by a former Indianapolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.
The outlet will publish stories written by state communications directors, and will “range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles.”
A Pence spokeswoman told the Star on Monday that it would be similar to the state’s current online calendar of news releases, but with a new design.
The move is likely to benefit smaller newspapers with limited staff, but some journalists contacted by the Star are outraged.
“I think it’s a ludicrous idea,” said Jack Ronald, publisher of one such newspaper, the Portland Commercial Review. “I have no problem with public information services — the Purdue University agriculture extension service does a great job. But the “notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press.”
Veteran Indiana journalist John Strauss, who is in charge of Ball State University’s public broadcasting operations, also weighed in:
The real story is they’re leapfrogging all the mainstream media people.
The journalists who are upset have only themselves to blame. It was their biased reporting that led Pence to take this decisive and bold measure.