An exodus of high-profile journalists continues at The Indianapolis Star, with city hall reporter Jon Murray planning to take a similar beat next month at The Denver Post.The IBJ article also mentions the loss of statehouse reporter Mary Beth Schneider, who resigned to take care of her parents, Jolene Ketzenberger was dismissed for operating a personal website about the local food scene. The Star also mentioned reporter Dan McFeeley left to take a job with the city of Carmel though McFeeley was not so much a public relations writer for the City of Carmel. McFeeley's cheerleading led to a high-paying consulting gig with, you guessed it, Carmel. I wrote about that recently.
The Colorado native announced his plans Monday on his Facebook page. Murray worked at the local Gannett Co. Inc.-owned newspaper for about 10 years.
Star Editor Jeff Taylor did not respond Thursday morning to a request for comment.
Murray, however, is a major loss. He was an old school reporter, someone who would actually investigate an issue, talk to sources, and churn out well-written, thoughtful prose. I have nothing to base this on, but I got the sense though that Murray's reporting the last few years was hamstrung by bosses who strictly limited what he could report on (certainly nothing too critical about local power brokers) and demanded he turn out more content with less depth.
I said previously that I thought the Star within the next few years would go to an on-line newspaper only with a hard copy printedonly on Sunday. I based that on the fact that the Monday through Saturday newspapers had become increasingly devoid of content, but the Sunday paper still contained signficant original material. I was wrong. I picked up last Sunday's paper and I was shocked the lack of content. Featured prominently, on the front page were old columns by Matt Tully and Erika Smith that had been on the internet for at least one day if not more. The formerly interesting Behind Closed Doors column was tucked away inside, reduced to half its former size. The only original article I saw was a good story on the how the legislators planned to vote on the marriage amendment, HJR-3. The reporter had obviously done a lot of work to write the article, but one good article does not a Sunday paper make.
What is interesting is that from the moment that Publisher Karen Crotchfelt and Editor Jeff Taylor took the paper, the weakest part of the Star has been the two major columnists, Matt Tully and Erika Smith. Tully has been phoning in his column for years while Smith seems to be pulling a McFeely, constantly writing cheerleading columns about the need to expand mass transit in an effort with an eye to landing a consulting or PR gig with the transit folks. Surprisingly Tully and Smith continue to be employed by the Star while quality writers have abandoned the Star as if it were a sinking ship. Indeed it is sinking.