Under Kane and Ryerson's leadership the quality of the Star had declined dramatically. In depth local reporting was dismissed. Most of the newspaper became AP articles seemingly published to fill out the every decreasing size of the newspaper. Instead of reporting critically, the newspaper had become a cheerleader for the local political and business establishment. As the Internet boomed in popularity, people increasingly turned to blogs and other online material to find the objective, critical content about Indianapolis politics they so craved.
Still I held out hope that the Star would improve its content and watchdog functions under the Crotchfelt/Taylor leadership. I thought perhaps they were merely making statements that didn't criticize their predecessors, while planning to strengthen the paper's content.
Take the Star's two main political columnists for example. Matt Tully has been phoning in his columns for the last several years, offering rambling diatribes on issues with little if any original content or thought. Meanwhile Erika Smith's job apparently is just to write column after column promoting whatever the leadership of the Star supports. Right now the Star is on the mass transit bandwagon. Smith has dutily complied with her assigned task. Four of her last five columns have been on mass transit (pro of course) as well as seven such columns in the past five weeks. (She generally writes two columns a week.)
I don't blame the Star reporters. Writers like Jon Murray and Tim Evans are very talented. The Star is fully capable of doing in-depth investigative reporting if the editors allow the reporters to do their job.. For example, when it came to reporting on problems with Department of Child Services and issues relating to I-69 land purchases, the Star led the way. But those are the exceptions to the rule for our daily newspapers. And when it comes to investigatory pieces regarding Indianapolis local government and the business and political insiders they serve, the Star's investigatory reporting is nowhere in sight. Think you're going to read in the Indianapolis Star a critical story about the Broad Ripple Parking Garage giveaway or the Pacers $33.5 million (now $44.5 million) gift or the insiders cashing in on certain development deals at the expense of taxpayers? Not going to happen. When given a chance to cover a public corruption trial involving a politically-connected real estate broker whose deals involved prominent local officials, the Indianapolis Star unbelievably took a pass. John Bales' trial and subsequent acquittal was never once mentioned in the Star. Unbelievable.
I can't see the Star surviving as a daily print publication much longer. Last Fall, New Orleans became the first major United States City to lose its daily newspaper. It appears that Indianapolis, which has a substantially larger population, is on its way to becoming the second.