Monday, August 20, 2012

New Leadership of the Indianapolis Star Pledges to be a "Partner" with the Community; Do Not Expect Newspaper to Return to Local Watchdog Role

Karen Crotchfelt, President and
Publisher of the Indianapolis Star
In listening to Karen Crotchfelt, publisher of the Indianapolis Star, being interviewed by Abdul of Indy Politics, it is clear she does not grasp the Star's content problem.  During the interview she talks about the Star being a "partner" with the local community, a clear indication she believes the Star's role is to continue being a cheerleader for everything local political leaders and their beneficiaries, i.e. the downtown business community, wants to do.  Of course, while it is one thing to take a pro-establishment position on the Star's editorial pages, it is quite another when the Star jettisons objectivity to slant the news to support their editorial position.  That is not quite accurate though.  Most often it is not the Star simply refusing to report facts that don't fit the newspaper's editorial position.

Want to know why the Star is getting its clock cleaned?  Let's look at what some other publications reported last week.   Local blogger Matt Stone (Indy Student) broke the news that GrowMassAve, an organization set up to promote a new tax increment financing (TIF) district for that area of the state was in fact started by Democratic activist Jennifer Wagner.  Gary Welsh (Advance Indiana) reported that Wagner is married to Gordon Hendry, who is with a local brokerage the City has designated to receive the millions of dollars in brokerage fees for development along Massachusetts's Avenue.

Instead of reporting this news, the Star produced an editorial in favor of the new TIF district and Star columnist Matt Tully said Council Democrats are "playing politics" by insisting that new rules prohibiting the abuse of TIF districts be in place before any new TIF districts, such as one on Mass Avenue, are created.

Meanwhile the IBJ broke the news that the Indiana Lottery has contracted with Oliver Wyman, a company that was behind the privatization of the Illinois lottery.  The IBJ documented extensive problems Illinois had with Oliver Wyman and published the observation from the Illinois lottery chief, "It's as if they (referring to Indiana lottery officials) didn't learn anything" from what happened in Illinois.

Speaking of the IBJ, this week's paper included at least 14 editorials from local community leaders on Federalism, health care, education reform, TIFs, and the poor advice Mayor Ballard is receiving from his advisers on recent issues before the Council.  While the IBJ embraces the presentation of alternative views on a range of national, state and local issues, the Star gives its readers wishy-washy columns by Tully and Erika Smith.  Example?  Smith's latest hard-hitting column (sarcasm intended) is titled:  "Let's keep Indy's weekends as busy as this one," a typical cheerleading, puff piece about downtown Indianapolis that you can expect from Smith on a regular basis, at least when she's not writing, ad nauseum, about bike lanes and public transportation.

If you want to know what is really going on locally, you read the IBJ, you watch stories done by local TV news reporters such as Journalist of the Year, Kara Kenney, and you read the blogs.  If you want cheerleading about local happenings, you pick up the Star.   Most people don't want cheerleading from their local newspaper. They don't want their newspapers to be "partners" with local power brokers. They want their newspaper to give them the straight, unadulterated facts, while not being afraid to step on the toes of local politicians and business leaders.  If readers don't get that from their local daily newspaper, they will continue to go elsewhere for content.   It is a shame that Indianapolis Star Publisher Karen Crotchfelt and Editor-in-Chief Jeff Taylor have not yet figured that out.


M Theory said...

Is her name REALLY "Crotchfelt"?

Unknown said...

On any given day the Star plays hide and seek as those deals are made by a few that will fill the air with gentle breeze and the sweet scent of lilac. The daytime hours pass quickly solitude that nourish the new rhythm of reformed schools which give us how to raise fingers to suggest that learning is taking place. One day yellow buses do not arrive and what do we read that everything is a mess on the front page.

Downtown Indy said...

The fundamental problem with the Star is they no longer have editors editing stories by reporters, they have reporters editing press releases written by the sugject of the story.

I was shocked to see an honest-to-God investigative report in Sunday's edition about Sensient Flavors, dangerous chemicals, and their employees getting lots of serious illnesses.

Indy Rob said...

New editor, Ms. Crotchfelt, wants the Star to be partners. Isn't that swell, more valuable PR for the downtown gobsmuckers who brought us Georgia Street (to be rebuilt and renamed later), two sports palaces for the billionaire team owners, a couple of very top of the line hotels (Conrad and Marriott) , a new TIF area, a free parking garage for a campaign donor, an apartment complex for another campaign donor, parking meters that have doubled the old rates (good for the vendor, not so much for the city). I gotta stop now and go under my bridge.

Pete Boggs said...

Prediction: The increase in subscript-shuns will continue...