The Outstater: The Indy Star Death Watch

March 29, 2018

PLEASE MARK TODAY’S RECURRENT ANNOUNCEMENT that another of the Indianapolis Star’s top editors is reluctantly leaving Indiana, a place that he or she profess to have come to love, and, having accomplished all of his or her assigned tasks in this God-forsaken place, has been called back to Rome, blah, blah, blah . . .

Three immediate observations:

1. Follow the Ambition — Organizations such as Gannett are full of predatory junior editors cruising the shallows for control of any of the chain’s major dailies. That none of them chose to grab the open slot in Indianapolis tells you that the word is out; specifically, that the operation is headed downhill, and unless you enjoy firing nice people and slashing budgets there won’t be any glory to be found here. Hope I’m wrong, Indiana is in need of a quality information system. A constitutional republic doesn’t work well without one (pure democracies being another matter).

2. The New Boss Is not the Same as the Old Boss — That is, the departing suit had a background in high-level journalism, which, alas, he chose not to apply here. The new editor has a background in digital journalism and appears to have landed in Indianapolis not in the process of climbing a career ladder but in a search of indoor work, as they say. Myself, having been out of daily operations for some time, cannot be sure how a digital editor spends his days. But from what I can tell, such people have become skilled at producing a product of seeming import without actually spending money on reporting, copy editing or distributing news of any prescience. In particular, they fill the news hole with advocacies and charities of one sort or another because they are cheaper than digging up the truth.

3. Prospects? — Let’s nominate the new editor’s attempt to rally a hapless newsroom for the Jimmy Carter Malaise Award: “It’s no secret we need to figure out how to do the best job we can with the staff that we have,” he said in regard to today’s announcement. “We, meaning the Star, have been more fortunate than others. We are hiring and looking to bring in more talent here. But we face the challenges that every single other media company faces and we are doing better than most.”

Well, here’s to doing better than most with the staff you have.

— Craig Ladwig



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