Advance Indiana comments on Lucas story

Dateline: Mon 13 Jul 2009

I admit I was a bit puzzled by the blazing 6-column spread story on the Star's front page this morning: "What can you find at Lucaas Oil Stadium? MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL."

Well, OK. The story is by trusted and veteran reporter Dan McFeely -- whose last beat I believe was transportation.. But today's effort seems to be more of a public relations attempt to convince readers that eventually the money spent for Lucas Oil Stadium will pay off.

Still, what I read was mildly interesting: first the assertion that Lucas Oil Stadium already has depreciated $12.7 million -- whoa, where does that figure come from? And how can a building depreciate, since real estate is supposed to go up in value, especially prime real estate. The second most interesting part was that the IHSAA may not be able to afford Lucas in the future for its venue. Finally, I was amused that someone actually rented that brick tribute to NFL ego for a Sweet 16 party.

But the most telling conversation about the story is over at Gary Welsh's Advance Indiana blog, where his readers/commenters take apart the story number by number. They even raise questions about why McFeely should be reporting on the issue, since he has not been the reporter on task, the numbers guy, etc.; in the past, it was Brendan O'Shaugnessy who delivered the goods on the Capital Improvement Board/Lucas Stadium hassles, but as Gary Welsh points out, Brendan is outta there, gone from the Star forever, resigned of his own free will. Nothing against Dan, whose work ethic and reporting skills are above reproach, but it does seem an odd assignment for him.

Mainly, tho, Welsh is critical of the story's sidebar with its dubious numbers, according to Welsh.

Read what he and his cohorts have to say at

Once again, the brouhaha proves, No. 1, that readers are not fooled by the Star's agenda and No. 2,  that news is so much bigger than what the Star is delivering these days, especially now with one-fourth of its staff gone. And to think, Dennis Ryerson once referred to the blogosphere as "that noise."




hendy [Member] said:

Depreciation is an accounting term that's used to denote what the IRS believes that the asset value is worth within one of a number of depreciation schemes for tax and valuation purposes. It prevents an asset from holding its full value over tax life. Residences don't really have this kind of depreciation. The number is probably accurate.

The story, however, is mostly PR.

But we knew that. What was once an occasional source of veracity must now be suspect for so many reasons, thus depreciating the value of the Indpls Star. Perhaps The Star has gone Nova, or perhaps Nuvo. In any event, things will change. I find it strange that the IBJ now becomes a strong source of journalism in the wake of the disintegration of The Star, as it's 1) a weekly and 2) business in central Indiana is so often corrupt and very poor at community endeavor.

2009-07-13 14:18:27

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

When I looked at The Star's front page today, my reaction was: "Oh, they must have accidentally delivered one of those advertorial papers to my house for some reason."

If this wasn't suck-up propaganda, what is?

Denny and his ear ring should rent out Irsay Stadium and have a party for all of the good people he's fired in the last year and all of the victims of the "furloughs" that have been imposed.

Anyone for pin the tail on the corporate jerks?

2009-07-13 14:51:57

ruthholl [Member] said:

Thanks, both of you. Good info, funny comments.
Did anybody else notice the classifieds starting in the biz section today? That was the oddest thing I have seen in a while.
Countdown to 2011.

2009-07-13 15:38:57

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Dan has lost some of his fire lately. He was the supervisor of some bureau reporters recently. One of those reporters did a particularly lousy job on a story involving a zoning case of high importance to neighborhood folks all over the county. By "lousy" I would note that this reporter got quotes wrong, facts wrong, and was generally unpleasant during the process, as if it was a huge chore to do phone work (the reporter attended zero pubic meetings on the subject--it was all after-the-fact lazy-ass phone work). And it was not the first time this has happened.

The reporter so botched the story, that I suggested remonstrators call her, and her editor. They did that. Dan shrugged it off. He was presented solid facts that the reporter got quotes wrong--and nothing was done.

I got the impression he was overworked, underpaid and definitely under-appreciated. Welcome to the real world, Dan.

On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed most of his reporting. But this fluff piece should've been left to the ad side of the paper.

What self-respecting journalist would've done this story?

I fear the morale is so low at IndyStar dot com, that formerly unthinkable reporting has only begun.

I hope I'm wrong.

The awful reporter I mentioned above? Survived the cut. Still there.

2009-07-14 05:09:32

Paul K. Ogden [unverified] said:

I think the Wishard (Sunday) and the Lucas Oil Stadium (Monday) articles in the Star seemed more like PR pieces than objective journalism.

I think Hendy is right that you can depreciate commercial property. And Hendy is also right that it's more of an accounting practice than anything. Nonethless, the problem is that they are apparently including depreciation as part of their operating deficit. That makes no sense.

Ruth, if you read the article very closely I don't think they quite said that depreciation is $12.7 million, but rather it's part of the $12.7 million.

2009-07-14 12:42:17

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"What self-respecting journalist would've done this story?"
I agree with you, TTT. Maybe McFeely is just so bruised and battered that he's given up on trying to do reputable journalism.

I feel sorry for journalists these days who are forced to prostitute their professional ethics just to keep the lights on in their homes and food on the table.

2009-07-14 16:31:45

StarStruck [Member] said:

TTT and Whitebeard:

Do you honestly think that reporters pick their own stories to do? Do you not think an editor, maybe Ryerson, assigned him to that story? Know anything about how newspapers are run? Hello???? Lay off Dan -- he's a good guy caught in the Gannett web.

2009-07-14 16:56:21

ruthholl [Member] said:

I have to say, StarStruck is right on the money. Editors often have an agenda; certain editors want to see a particular perspective advanced, perhaps for their own aims.
I've seen it. I've lived it. I've been there, done that.
Dan is not the problem. As SS says, he is a good guy caught in the G-web.
I could go on...and maybe I will at a later date...but those of us who have integrity, and worked under Gannett, learned that the only sanity was to escape.

2009-07-14 21:31:41

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"Know anything about how newspapers are run? Hello???? Lay off Dan -- he's a good guy caught in the Gannett web."

My comment was not "laying on" Dan. I was honestly expressing empathy for what The Star's employees are forced to deal with these days.

Having worked in the field of newspaper and magazine journalism (now only part-time) for 35 years, yeah I know "a little bit about how newspapers are run."

I also know that his byline was on the article. He's the author of the article in question. That signifies
journalistic responsibility. Or do we just quit holding
journalists accountable for the work that is under their bylines? Where does that lead us all? Is this a service to readers?

I'm sure Dan is a great guy caught up in the mess at The Star. I do genuinely feel empathy for him and for all of the other Star employees.

But if a professional journalist is willing to submit to producing advertorial copy, I hope he or she is indeed plotting their escape.

2009-07-15 00:34:08

StarStruck [Member] said:

"But if a professional journalist is willing to submit to producing advertorial copy, I hope he or she is indeed plotting their escape."

And do what, Mr. Whitebeard? Join the other hundreds of journalists in this city who are laid off/fired/whatever and working at McDonald's? Do you really think Dan was "willing to submit" to that? He was just doing his job. And, as most Star writers know, this wasn't necessarily the first version of the story. Dan could have taken a whole different approach, and after 10 editors piss on it, it turned into this. Or, maybe he did really write it that way. "Journalism" is changing, and not for the better. Dan (and all reporters) are at the mercy of those above him. Don't diss the writer, diss the management which often doesn't know what they're doing.

2009-07-15 06:33:22

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Starstruck: yes, I do know a thing or two about how newspapers are run. I've done it.

I realize these stories are assigned. I'm not all that surprised at how it's come full-circle, into large PR puff pieces. I like Dan--my example of his supervising skills was true and recent.

The Wishard piece struck me as less PR, tho. Its timing is suspicious, and stinks. But consider this:

Drive around 465. Look at the monuments to urban (mostly white, upper class) health care that Methodist, Community, and the two Saints are building or have built. All operating at 30-40% of bed capacity, inside wood-paneled walls. Some with concierges. (No, I'm not kidding)

Then visit Wishard. I do, frequently, because the Med School's Senior Clinic is in the building. My parents both use that clinic. It's fantastic, and uses a multi-disciplined approach to problems. But I digress.

Why should Wishard's population continue to operate in this outdated, crowded, dirty building? Because it's mostly poor and contains a huge segment of minorities? How many of you have seen it?

Our health care delivery system is rife with these kinds of examples, nationwide, and it's disgusting. We have to pay for those expensive suburban hospitals, most of which were not needed. No one is riding herd over the allocation of health care resources.

That story needs to be told, and the press is guilty of cheerleading these expensive projects for the last 12-20 years. Someone should've been asking tough cost questions.

If the Wishard story is getting told now, and we have to wade through the PR side, tough luck. It's the price we all pay for ignoring the health care construction story for too long.

2009-07-15 06:40:10

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