Indiana governor Mike Pence is launching a state-run news outlet called “Just IN” that will feature pre-written news stories as well as breaking news stories about his administration.
The website is due for a launch in late February and will feature stories and news releases written by state press secretaries. It will be overseen by a former Indianopolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.
According to a question-and-answer sheet distributed last week to communications directors for state agencies, stories will “range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles.”
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Jack Ronald, publisher of the Portland Commercial Review, stated his opposition to the idea:
I think it’s a ludicrous idea. I have no problem with public information services — the Purdue University agriculture extension service does a great job. But the notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press.
Ronald “won a Fulbright scholarship in 1998 to train journalists in the former Soviet state of Moldova about how to build an independent press, after decades of relying on state-run media under the USSR,” according to the Indianapolis Star.
Steve Key, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association, which lobbies for newspapers at the Statehouse, said:
It’s not uncommon throughout history for governments to do what they can to control the message. Is that done in a benign way because they’re trying to get more info out to the public, or is it done with hidden motivations in making sure their message is seen in the best light possible?
What do you think about Mike Pence’s plan to launch a state-run news outlet?