The Outstater

June 13, 2022

THINGS ARE changing at the Indianapolis Star — dramatically and, to some of us, terrifyingly. They want us to accept it as “reimagining.”

Our Leo Morris has expertly alerted the membership to this latest and perhaps saddest reincarnation. I urge you to read his column. It explains how the Gannett Company’s historic decision to downgrade editorial pages is not as it might first appear, abject stupidity, but to hide an embarrassing dissonance.

That is, how could a newspaper be trusted if its editorial page was saying exactly what was being promoted on its front page? It couldn’t; readers would feel manipulated. But the editors already knew that. Here again is the statement Morris quoted from the Gannett committee of editors:

“Readers don’t want us to tell them what to think. They don’t believe we have the expertise to tell anyone what to think on most issues. They perceive us as having a biased agenda.”

Bingo!

Gannett, however, which publishes 15 newspapers here, decided to ignore this obvious flaw in its operational plan. Rather, it decided the solution was some slight-of-hand. It would downgrade if not eliminate the editorial pages (the “saying it out loud” part) and would concentrate on what it quaintly calls news (the “disguised distortion of reality” part).

But keep your eye on the pea. What happened to that “trust” part, the element that has driven journalism since Martin Luther and the first printing presses?

And just like that, It is gone — and Gannett could care less. Newspapers now make their money from institutional advertisers such as banks, hospitals and large corporate interests pursuing narrow agendas. Broad-based commercial advertising, which works to transfer the trust of a local newspaper to a community’s shops, restaurants, dealerships and stores, is minimal.

A great source of that trust was the assurance that issues other than those endorsed on the editorial page would be treated justly and objectively on the other pages.

Well, Morris had no sooner typed the last sentence of his column when the Star, a Gannett paper and the largest in Indiana, announced the next step in the same direction, this one more troubling than the first. The title of “Public Engagement Editor,” a politically correct invention of only recent vintage, was being “reimagined” by executive editor Bro Krift.

Now the newspaper would become not only untrustworthy but an agent of maleficence if you disagree with its view of truth, justice, history, law and the general direction in which mankind should be headed. Indeed, the new public engagement editor warns Indianapolis to “get ready.” She promises to pattern her style on the late civic genius John Lewis and make “good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Will that mean labeling anyone with whom she disagrees as a bigot or counter-progressive reactionary? Sounds like it. And good luck reading about any issue or idea that hasn’t occurred to the Star’s stable of sophomoric lockstep minds. Finally, if the Star calls you for an interview you would be wise to be otherwise engaged.

In sum, the Star has unleashed a myopic idealist on Indianapolis — a mediocre unelected one to boot — and given her the power to casually “shake things up and agitate the status quo,” in her words.

Our bet is that will include using the full weight of an almost 120-year-old institution to marginalize the recalcitrants and divide the city by identity (29 percent Black, 3 percent Asian, 10 percent Hispanic and so forth). And there will be “equity” and “intersectionality” galore. “No one person is just one thing,” she imagines in her reimagining.

What is unimaginable is why anyone would pay for such shallow-minded, self-righteous rubbish, or why a city of 800,000 stalwart Midwestern souls would abide it without raising up an alternate medium.

If we must reimagine something, let’s reimagine that. —tcl



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