Monday, November 28, 2022

Columnist James Briggs' Departure and Why I Cancelled My Indianapolis Star Subscription

This weekend,, Indianapolis Star columnist James Briggs wrote that he was leaving the publication..  In his column announcing his departure, Briggs mentions where he is going, but is sure to state that his "leaving on his own."  I'm not so sure. When someone as young as Briggs leaves a full-time professional position with no other job lined up, usually that person did not leave the  job voluntarily.

James Briggs replaced political columnist Matt Tully, who passed away shortly after leaving the Star.  My complaints about Briggs were the same as with  Tully. They both went out of their way to praise the powerful business interests who run Indianapolis and would support every version of corporate welfare, no matter the cost to ordinary citizens.  One would think a major city newspaper's political columnist would stand up for the weak and against the powerful.  Briggs and Tully consistently did exactly the opposite.  One of Briggs' last columns was to tell readers how lucky they are to have Jim Irsay as owner of the Colts.  Of course, Briggs dutifully ignored the fact that Indianapolis, actually Indiana, residents have turned Irsay from a millionaire to a billionaire.  We taxpayers paid for the new football arena pursuant to a sweetheart deal that allows him to keep the revenue generated by the building.  If that wasn't bad enough, we taxpayers also pay to operate the stadium.  

Indianapolis Star Columnist James Briggs

Of course, Tully and Briggs never said one complaining word about the Colts and Pacer deals that greatly enriched the teams' owners at the expense of taxpayers.  Nor did Tully or Briggs ever write critically of the 50 year parking meter deal, private jails, taxpayer subsidized development deals, the city-county council constantly handing over TIF money to government contractors (a practice that takes revenue away from schools and other services), or any other corporate welfare measure.  Indianapolis politics, whether the city is run by Republicans or Democrats, is always about taxpayers subsidizing private, for-profit businesses.  You would think the Star's columnist would shine a light on these practices.  Nope.  Tully and Briggs were consistent cheerleaders for the corporate welfare that has for decades dominated this city's politics.

It was Briggs' Irsay column that was the last straw for me when it came to my Indianapolis Star on-line subscription.   When I read Briggs' fawning portrayal of Irsay , I made a critical comment, noting how we taxpayers had made Irsay filthy rich.  The post didn't contain anything offensive or personal  in nature, but was critical of the position Briggs took.  


A few minutes after I made the comment on Brigg's column, I tried to post another comment to a Star article and found I was blocked from doing so.  This didn't happen once, it happened probably 7 or 8 times.  The minute I would make a critical comment to a Briggs' column, I would end banned from commenting on Star articles for a period of time. 

Several times I reached out to the Star to get an explanation for why I was banned.   Indianapolis Star representatives would never respond to any of my queries.  I finally contacted a reporter I knew and asked him to forward along my communications.  He did so.  But after a few days passed and my commenting privileges weren't reinstated, I logged in and cancelled my subscription to the Star.  I had had enough.

It's funny....I made critical comments on other Star articles and was never barred from posting comments.  I made several positive comments on Briggs' columns, and those never resulted in bans either.  But the minute I would write anything critical of about a Briggs' column, I would be barred from posting again.

If it would have happened just once or twice, I'd chalk it up to a coincidence.  But 7 or 8 times?  I don't know if Briggs was personally banning me, or (more likely) someone was doing it at his behest, but there was no doubt what was going on.  Clearly Briggs has thin-skin and has trouble accepting criticism.  But blocking readers from commenting because you don't like what they say - well that's just plain wrong.

I'm not sure if my complaints to the Star about what was going on helped usher Briggs out the door.  But if it did, kudos to the Star for taking action.  Now Gannett can now hire someone as a columnist who isn't a shill for the corporate interests who dominate Indianapolis politics.  Is that too much to ask for?

1 comment:

Alfred Nyby said...

It is hard to believe that you are the same person that authored the October 27th post on the Talevski case? From the current post you clearly understand that politicians bow to their corporate masters. Corporate welfare is just one of the many ways. However, in your Talevski post you wrote:

"When I first heard of the Talevski case, I was dumbfounded as to why my fellow Republicans would support HHC's position."

Dumbfounded? You are too smart to be that naive. It's obvious that the Talevski case threatens the profits of the private companies that have partnered with HHC.