The Star's leading political columnist Matt Tully writes a thoroughly boring column about his going to a Mayor's Night Out in the Lafayette Square area, which column he sums up as:
"In other words, they asked about the basics. That's what these events are about -- and that's why Ballard has focused so squarely on them for more than four years now."Meanwhile Erika Smith pens an only slightly more interesting column about a Ball State University professor who is using junk he collects to make a point about our throw away society.
Then there are stories about the Colts facing difficult choices rebuilding the team, the new Department of Education grading system for schools, and a story about who is responsible for the State Fair tragedy. None of these news stories are in fact "new." They all concern matters that have been discussed publicly for weeks, if not months.
It's not that the Star is without talented reporters who can do great work when given the opportunity by their bosses. Jon Murray recently wrote a detailed article analyzing the numbers on the ACS parking meter deal. Alex Campbell took apart Indiana University's claims regarding the economic impact of taxpayers investing in the university. Tim Evans and Heather Gillers was all over the civil forfeiture issue a couple years ago, while the Star has also published investigative pieces on the Department of Child Services controversy and the scandal at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
The problem is that those types of quality, investigative articles are few and far between. Instead the Star tends to consciously steer clear of controversy, especially if those controversies will implicate people with political clout. No better example is the approach Tully and Smith take to their jobs. Undoubtedly they have received controversial (and interesting) leads on column topics. Instead they choose column after column to address the most uncontroversial (and boring) matters.
At one time, the Indianapolis Star had Pulitizer prize winning writer/columnist Dick Cady on staff, a man who broke the story on Indianapolis police corruption during the 1970s. If you wonder why the Star doesn't sell newspapers and its plan to sell its content on-line will fail, look no further than the fact that Cady's shoes are now filled by Matt Tully. Dick Cady is to Matt Tully as Peyton Manning is to Curtis Painter.