Washington Post blinks

Dateline: Thu 02 Jul 2009

Business Insider/Silicon Valley Insider reports, as does Politico.com, that the Washington Post has cancelled its "clever plan to make money off reporters."

Here's the story from Biz Insider by Paul Smalera:

"The Washington Post has canceled plans to host a series of "salons" that would have mixed Obama Administration officials and Post reporters with reps from companies and nonprofits paying as much as $250,000 to attend.

Politico reported the plans this morning after obtaining a flier inviting sponsorships.

Once the news broke, the Post newsroom quickly pulled back on the offer of reporters attending the events. This afternoon, the paper announced the whole even has been cancelled."

Interestingly, the Biz Insider says that such events are really nothing novel; that lobbyists and reporters have in effect been in bed together for years, and the tradition at the Post dates back to the days when Katharine Graham was the publisher.

Sez Smalera: "These salons merely reflect the power structure that already exists in Washington. Most of the people in the room probably already know one another. The idea that reporters can actually avoid these types of encounters is laughable. For a media company to set up a paid event and request editorial staff to attend is nothing new..."

In fact, he predicts, media companies will become more brazen in the future about promoting such events.

Does this mean that the Star's Dennis Ryerson will be hosting in-house meet-and-greets for lobbyists? He already is under the influence; when at Des Moines, the Columbia Journalism Review nailed him for his hiring strategy for a new biz editor. He brought in the local Chamber of Commerce to interview a candidate.

Chamber of Commerce one day, lobbyists the next....nothing new under the sun.....


Thanks to the two readers who tipped me off about the about face.



hendy [Member] said:

And there are those that wonder why we question 'journalistic ethics'.

I hope heads roll there... but it's unlikely.

2009-07-02 20:13:03

John Howard [unverified] said:

And there's that deal with the Star investing in Circle Center Mall to help out the Simon brothers.

That's $2+ million reasons I am reluctant to trust the Star when they do a story about any Simon-related matter.

2009-07-03 09:44:48

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I'm pretty sure the Circle Centre Star investment was backed out of the Pulliam family's balance sheet during the Gannett sale. At Gannett's insistence.

The deal didn't help the Simons all that much--they were and are doing well enough without Circle Centre. The deal helped downtown, which is not arguable.

2009-07-03 12:41:09

hendy [Member] said:


But we don't know in certainty that Gannett disposed of this asset, do we? It would be nice to know one way or the other.

Now let's talk about whether the Circle Center Mall helped or hurt the downtown. I'm in a bit of a quandary about that. Here's why:

1) Sales taxes are collected but
2) Property taxes are abated
3) The Simons got that cute little property across from the State House for just about nothing. Yes, they built it and the asset is theirs; the construction contributed to the economy as do their salaries. However,
4) The churn in retail establishments there is huge and the anchors are barely holding on. Yet
5) This property does tie together a lot of real estate and we all paid for the acquisition of the land, demolished the buildings, and have the mall to show for it.

Center Twp continues to suffer from inadequate property tax base, yet must service a huge number of NGOs and not-for-profits and civil (government-owned/operated) facilities that don't pay property tax, and in some cases, there are entities that have the taxes abated.

From the US Federal Courts until that little building on the real Mall above St Clair Streets, not a thing gets taxed, including the US HQ of the American Legion. On either side of the real Mall, about half of the properties are taxed, just as an example.

The CIB was bailed out, to no one's surprise, and we continue to subsidize the fortunes of the Simons and the Irsays at the expense of getting IPS out of hock, and improving the infrastructure of the central city, let alone the rest of it.

Ok. It's the 4th. I'll get off my soapbox and reel-in my bile. This is about The Star and its possible biases.

2009-07-04 19:36:25

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Hendy: you're clueless about Circle Centre, evidenced by your posts. Here is some info you might want to consider:

Nordstrom, the main anchor, projected sales over a 20-year period to calculate their leasehold improvements, the Landlord's contribution to same, and regular/percentage rent. They have met their projections every year but 2008, and it was off only 4-5%. They'd never have opened a second store in this market if their downtown store was an albatross. That's not the way classy retail anchors operate.

Carson's is not a classy retail anchor. That one was a bust.

The mall is about 91% occupied at any given time. Not what Simon would like perhaps, but at or ahead of national averages.

Ask ANY conventioneer what they like about Indy, and they'll tell you it's the friendly people and a cohesive downtown. That convention business is huge--Indy is usually in the top three destinations for the second-tier of conventions that don't go to Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, New York, etc. Which is why we needed an expanded convention center.

Downtown has its problems. Vitality is not one of them. Next time, before you type, why don't you research?

As for the Gannett/Pulliam mall investment--why is it our business? If you own Gannett stock, as I do, ask via that route. I couldn't care less. The mall financing scheme was innovative and untried. It's worked, for the most part. It drew in multiple community partners in a project that reinvigorated downtown. No one can deny that. Nobody held a gun to anyone's head and demanded the investment.

Oh, and just FYI--not all property taxes are abated. Some never were.

The Simon office property is a thorn in my side too, but not germane to the Circle Centre argument. It is important to the downtown-success argument, because corporate headquarters are vital to a healthy downtown.

2009-07-05 07:52:34

John Howard [unverified] said:

I care about the Star's financial ties with the Simons because it makes me wonder if they can report/editorialize impartially/honestly.

And no one held a gun to the CIB's head but still they are hellbent on handing over $15M to the Simons.

I had a chance to watch 'Mr. Smith goes to Washington' yesterday for the umpteenth time, but this time it caused me to think about Indy, the CIB, the Simons and left me wishing we had a Jefferson Smith on our side.

2009-07-05 14:59:28

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

The thing about Dennis Ryerson, the Star investing in Circle Center, etc.:

I have been reading The Star since 1959 and subscribing for the past 20 years.

Lately, I have been looking for an "excuse" to cancel my subscription.

I guess I should stop looking and make that phone call.

Nothing is more offensive to me than journalistic prostitution.

2009-07-05 20:53:41

hendy [Member] said:


I go to the LVCC, the Javits in NYC, the GWCC in Atlanta, The Moscone in SF, not to mention numerous top international venues. These are owned by their municipalities or regional governments in one form or another. Convention business is a nice thing, brings in outside dollars, and is highly transient. It's a competitive business.

In Indy, property tax abatement in Center Twp is miserable, coupled to its already low tax base that's the result of the enormous population of NFPs, NGOs, and US, Indiana State, and Marion County components that don't pay taxes. Everyone should pay their share, save the governmental units.

But let's look at other effects of the tourist trade. Yes, dollars come in, but two of the three sports venues are cash-negative, and still pay no taxes because they're owned ostensibly by the CIB. I say 'ostensibly' because these venues are NOTHING without their teams, and so these teams and their owners. In both cases, bad deals were done with them. Let's not go into the depth of the Simons and their malaise. This supposed dignity you cite has had a huge cost.

You can say that the painful process has brought prosperity to downtown, but at a HUGE cost to taxpayers and the infrastructure needs of neighborhoods and basic services like sewers, roads, bridges, and so on.

It's nice to have the influx of tourist dollars, don't get me wrong. But the investment used to get them hasn't offset the other problems you face (I moved to Bloomington last month).

2009-07-05 21:42:24

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I love downtown Bloomington. It's a stable economy because there will always be students. Try the new Farm restaurant on Kirkwood. Fantastic.

I can say downtown has prospered because I've officed downtown since 1986. I've watched it. The huge public cost was worth it. There is really no denying that.

As for Center Township...every state capital faces the same thing. Maybe we should study some others, to determine if we can streamline government and expenses.

Other areas face similar problems and we haven't dealt with it/ Brown County is home to huge state and federal parks, and has little property to tax. Their schools have been God-awful for 25 years, nearly under state control back in the 80s, and nothing has changed.

Special localities deserve special treatment and revenue arrangements from the legislature. But whenever you set up something like that, there are about 70-100 idiots in the legislature who cry foul and are not cross-checked.

Not every governmental entity in Indiana can operate similarly. Some local problems, most notably property tax base, are so unique they require a hybrid solution. God forbid the legislature could do it.

But we do have a State Pie now.

Harrison Ullman was right.

2009-07-06 05:16:01

hendy [Member] said:

You can pick on Brown County, but why not Greene? Crane doesn't pay taxes and eats up the real estate there. But that's how we fund things-- property tax revenues-- and without them, the quid pro quo of education and public services is abandoned.

No one wants to do the heavy lifting of reorganizing the state. Hell, we can't even get the legislature to fund the Shepherd-Kernan Commission savings.

Ullman was right.

2009-07-06 13:06:46

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Hendy--I actually worked on a complicated Brown County case in 1980. It never went to court, but we were prepared if it did. At that time, the research indicated Brown County had the highest ratio of non-taxable land in Indiana. Greene was very close.

I believe the figures used were--actual acres vs. taxable acres. I've slept since then, so I could be wrong. But by some measured status, Brown was out front. Perhaps because it's not a huge county, and so much is taken up by two state parks and a large part of the Hoosier National Forest. Just guessing.

Marion, FYI, was way down the list.

Still, the capital city has unique requirements that necessarily put state-owned buildings on the untaxed list. There should be a consideration of that requirement. Having said that--I have no idea what that should be.

2009-07-06 15:56:03

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