It wasn't a time consuming job certainly. Unlike the Department of Insurance, many if not most state agencies have someone who is paid solely to deal with the media. They go by various names: public information officer, communications director, press secretary, etc. Some agencies in state government have multiple communications directors. Last time I check, the Attorney General employed three highly paid employees in that position.
So now the news breaks that Governor Mike Pence is going to offer a consolidated approach to state communications with a website devoted to release of information. The Indianapolis Star reports:
Pence is planning in late February to launch "Just IN," a website and news outlet that will feature stories and news releases written by state press secretaries and is being overseen by a former Indianapolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.Government officials communicating with the media and the public isn't exactly a new phenomenon. It has been going on since organized government began. It appears that Governor Pence is doing little more than consolidating communications that is already going on over several state agencies. Yet this has not stopped the mainstream media from exploding in outrage over Governor Pence supposedly using taxpayer dollars to compete with them. (Cue the rolling of my eyes.) Locally we already have editorials by Indianapolis Star's Tim Swarens and Matt Tully decrying the move.
The Pence news outlet will take stories written by state communications directors and publish them on its website. Stories will "range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles."
The endeavor will come at some taxpayer cost, but precisely how much is unclear. The news service has two dedicated employees, whose combined salary is nearly $100,000, according to a search of state employee salary data.
The problem is not state government providing content, which has been going on forever, the problem is that media outlets have become incredibly lazy simply repeating what is told them by government without question. While news outlets rarely publish pres releases verbatim, they increasingly regurgitate claims made by government made without any sort of independent investigation. It is exactly for that reason that readership of blogs is exploding.
The irony of Swarens and Tully criticizing the Pence proposal can't be overlooked. As Star editor and columnist, respectively, they are two of the worst offenders at taking what is told them by Indianapolis city officials and simply reporting it as true without any sort of investigation. The Indianapolis Star has repeatedly failed in its duty to act as a watchdog of government and now they want to blame the government for its own failures. In fact, when hired the Star's current editor said it would be her job to act as cheerleader for city government. To the detriment of Star readers, she's lived up to that promise.
Sorry...the problem is not Gov. Pence's proposal. Rather, the problem is the media not doing their job.