Thursday, August 27, 2015

Embarrassing Email Leak Exposes Indy Star Publisher's Plans to Use Newspaper to Advocate for LGBT Agenda

Thomas Rose, writing for Breitbart news, breaks an embarrassing breach of journalistic ethics by Indianapolis Star Publisher Karen Ferguson Fuson:
Breitbart News has exclusively obtained an email sent by the President and Publisher of the Indianapolis Star. It invites “community leaders” to help plan and coordinate an aggressive, highly orchestrated campaign to “persuade” the Indiana state legislature to adopt sweeping special protections for Indiana’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities.   
Karen Ferguson Fuson,
Publisher & President, Indy Star
The email, sent personally by Karen Ferguson Fuson, President and Publisher of the Star, was sent early this morning to an undisclosed list of business and media elites, together with gay rights activists. It pulls no punches in its scope or its goals. The email, in its unedited entirety reads as follows:
Dear Friends:  
The IndyStar is preparing this fall to launch an ambitious and aggressive Editorial Board campaign designed to persuade the governor and state lawmakers to expand Indiana’s civil rights law to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. 
We would like to privately brief you on our plans for the campaign, to explain ways in which you and your organization can partner with us, to answer your questions, and to hear your thoughts and possible concerns. Please join us for a meeting with community leaders on September 22, from 8:00 – 9:30 am at our offices, 130 S. Meridian St.  
We believe that it is critical for all of us to work together to drive this important change and to further the recovery from damage done to our state by the RFRA controversy.
Please join us as we prepare to continue this vital conversation about the future of Indiana. To RSVP, email [redacted]. 
Karen Ferguson Fuson,  
Group President, Gannett Domestic Publishing,  
President & Publisher, IndyStar
In reporting on RFRA this Spring, the Star continuously repeated the "license to discriminate" line of the law's opponents on its news pages, spreading the misinformation that RFRA was about denying service to the LGBT community and not about protecting religious freedom.  This was done despite a 22 year history of the national government and 30 states having RFRAs (by statute or judicial decision) in which RFRA had never once been used to overturn the application of an anti-discrimination law.   Now that RFRA passed, the Star's agenda has turned to attacking supposed damage to the state by RFRA, repeated as fact in the newspaper's pages without a shred of evidence in support of the claim.  In the email, Ferguson Fuson repeats claim as a rallying point to push for LGBT rights.

In the Society of Professional Journalists position paper on political involvement by journalists, the SPJ states that its members are to "remain free of associations that may compromise integrity or damage credibility."  Ferguson Fuson shreds this ethical standard;  her email not only suggests association to promote a political agenda, she expressly says she will help organize support for LGBT protections in the state's civil rights law and will use the resources of the newspaper to promote the group's agenda. 

Ferguson Fuson shreds any semblance of journalistic ethics by expressly using her role as President and Publisher of the Indianapolis Star to organize and lend assistance to one side of a public policy issue that the Star regularly reports on.  That she doesn't leave the issue on the State's editorial pages is evidenced by her newspaper's extremely biased reporting on the RFRA and LGBT issues.  It is further evidenced by the Star's refusal to report critically on taxpayer subsidies for the Indiana Pacers.  Ferguson Fuson divorced her husband and married Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO Rick Fuson after relocating to Indianapolis.

Monica Boyer of Not on My Watch first brought the story to my attention.  She offers these tips at the conclusion of her article.
  1. Immediately drop your subscription to the Indy Star. Without readers, they have no advertisers. The number to call is 317-444-4000. Tell them you’ve decided to find other sources of news and their service is no longer needed. Not another dime to the Indy Star.
  2. It’s time to cut off the funding. Send us a list of their advertisers. ‪#‎cutoffthefunding‬ It’s time to see who is paying for this kind of bullying.
  3. Call your lawmaker. Tell them to get tough skin and prepare to do the right thing when they head to Indianapolis. Tell you will stand by them in support if they stand up for Religious Freedom. Tell them you will pray, call, email and whatever it takes. Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity laws are DANGEROUS to Religious freedom.  Several lawmakers have already said special rights for certain groups are more important than the First Amendment. It’s time to let them know we are watching.
  4. Become a Citizen Journalist. Make the Indy Star irrelevant by reporting the news yourself. It’s time to up our game and play offense instead of defense. Learn Social Media!!! If we got off the bench and into the game, they wouldn’t be able to bully our lawmakers like this. It’s easy, and it takes just minutes a day. It’s time to become citizen journalists and activate our social media skills. Email me if you are interested in setting up a class in your area.
  5. Pray for your Lawmaker. He/she will be going into a spiritual battle unlike many of them have seen. Call your prayer groups and churches and surround them with prayer.  It is NOT easy standing in this cesspool of anger and manipulation. Pray for them.
Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana also has an excellent article on the subject.


Anonymous said...

OK if the prayer's in Farsi?

Anonymous said...

LGBT: Let's Get Behind Tyranny

Anonymous said...

EDITORIAL BOARD means newspapers have an opinion. They have for years.

Anonymous said...

Especially Farsi. They really understand the value of RFRA.

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised. During the tax referendum on the ballot in Muncie, the Star Press, under the direction of the ex-editor was so biased in their reporting it made us sick. Despite their one-sided reporting, it failed. You can't trust the media at all.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 9:02, there is a HUGE difference between an editor or publisher expressing an opinion on the editorial pages and that same editor or publisher taking an active part in political activity in the community, even going so far as taking the lead in organizing support for a particular political position. HUGE DIFFERENCE. The former has been done for years. The latter is a blatant violation of judicial ethics. Find me an expert who says that what the Star publisher is doing is not a violation of journalistic ethics. Talk to reporters who have lost their jobs or been reprimanded for getting involved in political activity.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 3:42 and 9:09, I can only guess you're trying to make some sort of point. I would guess is you're peddling the nonsense that Christians won't support religious freedom of non-Christians. That could not be further from the truth. Christians better than anyone understand that legally religious freedom protected by the Free Exercise Clause and now RFRA after the Supreme Court gutted the Clause, must apply to ALL religions, Christian and non-Christian.

Anonymous said...

anyone old enough to remember when Pullman circulated the famous 2 word memo to staff: "Get (Larry) Conrad"?

Pete Boggs said...

FYI Anon 9:02: Newspapers have a journalistic obligation to present all sides of an issue; not views for dues under a counterfeit banner of news.

Anonymous said...

"Views for dues." That's interesting.

It sounds like the Star might be a shakedown racket. Sort of like Angie's List. Pay us, and we won't come after you in our pages.

Nicolas Martin said...

I don't agree with the Star, but I fail to find anything scandalous about this. Newspapers have the right to take up any cause they want, and it's up to readers to agree or not. Paul believes in the fantasy of an objective newspaper, and no such beast has ever existed, or should. I doubt the Star has much impact on either public or political opinion, anyway.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Nicolas, no questions the Star's "right" to do this. But it is most definitely a breach of the ethics that those in journalism have pledged to follow for the past 100 years. We used to have partisan newspapers with "Republican" and "Democrat" in their name. They used to slant newspaper coverage to promote their partisan affiliation. Journalism dropped that approach well over a century ago by pledging to limit its political involvement to the editorial pages. Reporters, editors, even publishers signed on to journalistic ethics codes that they would not actively involve themselves in political issues (with the exception of the editorial page) as it would undermine the credibility and objectivity of the reporting of the news. Ferguson Fuson rejects that and wants to take an active role in a political issue, a breach of virtually every journalism ethics code ever written. I'm not saying newspapers are objective, but they are supposed to TRY to be objective and part of that is avoiding getting involved in political issues. You're wanting to go back to the old days of newspapers being strictly partisan/political rags which don't care if they're objective. I still think that newspapers play an important role as the "fourth estate" and that is lost if they give up objectivity as you suggest.

Stuart Bagley, MS CIH CSP said...

Agree and thanks for that.

Stuart Bagley, MS CIH CSP said...

Breach of ethics. Really? Have you watched Fox News in the last 10 or 20 years? How hypocritical of you Paul Ogden. Lol.

David Blank said...

Stuart, apparently you're having a bit of trouble separating "Special Report", Fox's news report, with most of the rest of the evening, which is mainly all opinion. You can opine anything you want, but the news should try to be "fair and balanced".
I don't believe what Rachel Maddow does to be news, and neither does she.

In this case, the Star is the point person on this issue, not the opinion writers or,news people. The publisher and owner sent this letter as an invitation to partisans to get them in on the planning stages. The Star is creating the news, is part of the story, and is working in conjunction with a group before this is even a story.

That's wrong, wrong, and wrong for a newspaper. I don't want the Star to be either Fox opinion, or MSNBC. I want them to take a side when the issue is out, and report what's really going,on. It' wrong for them to create the news.

Do you really not see the difference, or are you simply being obtuse?