Voters, readers, see thru Star endorsements

Dateline: Thu 08 Nov 2007

Two letters to the editor in the morning Star address some of the media issues that hurt the Dems.

First is from John Guy, formerly a stockbroker with Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley and always a devoted Democrat:

"Although saddened by losses in my beloved Marion County Democratic Party, a consolation is realization that money, negative advertising and quoting the Star out of context does not work."

Reader Rich Hagenmaier writes a letter addressing the RiShawn Biddle situation, the first, to my recollection, to appear in print. He says:

"I read with interest Dennis Ryerson's article ('The Star won't allow racial slurs,' Nov. 4). The article response to posts on a Star blog. In the article, he states, 'our job is to report and present news, not to commit news.'

"I then turned the page and there, in full color, were pictures of the candidates for Tuesday's election endorsed by The Star. I've never been sure what value The Star's endorsements has on the public's perception of candidates. Some might argue a Star endorsement hurts a candidate. Nevertheless, I don't criticize the Star Editorial Board for giving its opinion...

"But a full page reminding voters of the endorsements. with Star-chosen candidates smiling in color, two days before the election? It certainly looks as if you are committing news. If not, you are at least attempting to influence the news."

My how things have changed. When I left the Star in 2006, the rule was that no columnist could talk slanted politics within 10 days or so before an election. The fear was that the paper would be perceived as impartial.

Obviously the Democratic Party spent good money for the advertisement. Who benefited? The Star, financially. Again, you see what is wrong with the daily "product" in Indy, that thing we used to call a newspaper.

But what is most interesting to me is that readers are not taken in by the Star's efforts to ingratiate itself. People used to rail against Gene Pulliam Sr. for his front-page endorsements of candidates and his anti-Democratic rants. Under Gannett and Barbara Henry, the allegiances are a little slicker, but the bias is just as obvious.


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