Andy Gammill: one foot out the door?

Dateline: Wed 28 Apr 2010

A reader of this blog reports that Indianapolis Star reporter Andy Gammill, who covers education, has announced on his Facebook page that Gammill has accepted a scholarship to attend law school this fall at Ohio State University.

Andy, however, has this to say about that:

"I am indeed in the process of deciding whether to attend law school in the fall. It would be premature, though, to say that I'm out the door. I have not resigned from The Star, I have not signed any binding contract with any law school or taken out any of the loans that would be necessary for such an endeavor. It is a possibility (at this point a strong one) that I may leave later this summer or fall.

"But to say at this point that I'm certainly leaving The Star is incorrect. I must say I am disappointed that someone would publicly share information that was intended to keep my friends and family updated on my current thinking. I'll be happy to let you what the outcome is when I know for sure what I'll be doing this fall."

I love Facebook.

And just to keep everything clear, the comings and goings of reporters, both young and old, is in fact of interest to those of us who still read the paper and/or worked there. Maybe it's insider baseball; maybe it's not a huge deal. But yes, it is I told Andy, I once asked a young page designer if she intended to stay at the Star. She looked at me as if I was crazy. "Not until I retire," she said. That's the sentiment of most people under the age of 50, I believe.

Andy has done a fine job covering schools, especially the vigorous Indianapolis Public Schools beat. He obviously has some talent as a future attorney, based on how he has parsed his statement.

Wherever he goes -- and it sure as hell sounds like he's got an exit plan -- I wish him well.



Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-28 19:33:32

ruthholl [Member] said:

It's no secret or revelation that most newsrooms were havens for misfits and alcoholics and borderline personality disorders at one point; that's what made many newsrooms fun and interesting. But true, a lot of those non-starters could not sustain the energy that it took to get the job done. So they burned out or in rare cases, got bounced...(I am talking about a time before the suits took over....)
I suppose in other instances, however, they stayed and flowered...or, like my dad, who did not have a degree, they were gypsies, moving from paper to paper (sometimes just ahead of a lawsuit, or the perception that one was en route).
Journalism is not a profession -- like law, medicine, social work, with a set of recognized rules, a code of conduct, a test to pass in order to practice.
It's a craft. Some people have the knack, even without credentials or college diplomas; others, with advanced degrees from j-schools, frankly were not well-suited for the rigors of the work.
Newsroom jobs have always been fairly stressful and not well-paying, even in the big leagues. Some guys figured it out early on: who needs this? They often went to law school, etc.
But in the past, certainly at the Star, it took a lot to get the publisher or editor to show an employee the door. In my experience, reporters, etc., were rarely fired...the word was, you get hired, you have a job for life. And then your brother, etc., also has a job for life. Crazy.
Gannett is running a business. The corporation keeps its ranks lean. It's one way they show a profit. Read S.O.B and I think you get a good sense of the lack of respect Al Neuharth has for the rank-and-file...whether those are editors or designers or shooters or whatever. As one colleague said, speaking of how Gannett runs its information centers, "We are all cogs in the machine."
But I do not agree that Gannett exclusively got rid of non-performers, at least at the Star.
Sometimes they targeted editors etc. who didn't get down with their philosophy. Plenty of talented writers etc. exited features when Gannett came to town, because, as reporters, designers, etc., they did not want to write or produce "news you can use" or charticles...
Anyhow, I think it's complicated.
I do appreciate your candor.
Thanks...and if I have misinterpreted, feel free to fire away.

2010-04-28 20:04:23

Rose [unverified] said:

That same troll said very similar things, in a repetitive kind of way, and actually even suggested that someone else ought to committ suicide, on another portion of this blog.

2010-04-28 20:16:28

ruthholl [Member] said:

I've been busy winding up some volunteer writing. I'm done with that.
No excuses, though. I need to pay attention.
Good God.

2010-04-28 20:32:26

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-28 20:38:13

John Howard [unverified] said:

I found this entertaining:

I also found it enlightening.

2010-04-28 20:47:05

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-28 21:03:49

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Andy Gammill? Hmmm. Isn't he the same Indy Star reporter who cozy'd up to that IPS hack who threw the Michigan videographers out of a PUBLIC meeting of the IPS board?

It's good he's thinking of getting out of the news biz. It's obvious he no longer belongs there.

2010-04-28 21:19:29

ruthholl [Member] said:

Here is Robert Kniland's site:

Yes, Ms. Cynical: same Andy.

On that note: are we still awaiting a ruling from the state's public access counselor on the ethics of what IPS' communications director did? I have not followed thru on that issue...anyone?

2010-04-28 21:24:00

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-28 21:40:22

ruthholl [Member] said:

Robert, that could happen to you here. Boring and stupid is tiresome and mean.
Repetitive is a sin.
John Howard, thanks for the legwork.

2010-04-29 00:36:37

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 01:27:28

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Ruth, Bob has become repetitive, boring and utterly predictable. Can you please limit the bandwidth he is wasting?

Or at least charge him a dollar every time he uses the term "tiny skill sets." (I visualize a Munchkin tool box.)

2010-04-29 06:11:17

ruthholl [Member] said:

I find those who comment on this blog to be civilized, articulate and restrained; hence the tenure of the conversation is always informative. Many of those who apparently rattle you never worked at the Star; they are simply observers. Some worked at other newspapers. Others have never drawn a paycheck from a newsroom.
As for the tiny skill-set mentality, that can happen in any organization -- it's not just confined to journalism. Hence the popularity of "The Office," both in its original manifestation in Britain and the Americanized version.
I am sure there is a thesis, tho, in the framework of your comments: no doubt, something shifted seismically in journalism in the 80s and 90s. Some of the grander vision faded, the mojo stopped working, and many many many people became bean-counters. My own experience was with what I called "the old biddy committee" -- the P.C. police. Anything I wrote on the subject of gay/homosexuality issues (for example) had to be vetted by a undercover gay copy editor. Well, OK. He turned out to be a fine guy. But it was just the idea -- put forth by other copy editors -- that more control had to be exerted...anyhow, everything just became more "political," and maybe some of that was good, but it did not always come off that way. There was a lot of second-guessing and head-in-the ass syndrome...
As circulations declined and newspapers refused to get on board, there was simply more hyper-spasm in newsrooms across the country, no question. Look at some of the hoops the NYT jumped thru -- the Jason Blair story, all that. Or as Nancy Nall said, editors who relied on focus groups to tell readers what they wanted: "Would you like chicken recipes? Would you really? Very good...we'll give you that. What else would you like? Tell us, please...we just want to make you happy!!!"
Anyhow, I agree there are genuine issues, but to assume that everyone who visits this blog is a tiny-skill-set perpetrator is just plain wrong and wrong-headed.
So think about it...we have a good time here. It's not rocket science; it's a meeting of minds...good discussion, goodbye to bitterness, whatever...

2010-04-29 06:32:03

George Stuteville [unverified] said:


You captured it perfectly -- the way it was. I think Dick Cady hired me in 1981, precisely because I didn't have a college degree. What I did have was a burning desire to get in a real newsroom, crank out the best story I was capable of writing, immerse myself within the whole craft. I did have the advantage of having grown up in a family of printers who owned tiny papers in Southern Indiana and Kentucky. I also had the advantage of being edited by people like you when I was in college and cranked out features about the University of Evansville and wrote high school sports.

Robert, you are perfectly correct. I did have a small skill set and I probably still do. What I did have going for me was a love of the written word, a fascination with photography, a respect for the newsroom, and insatiable curiosity about the world.

Newspapers gave me a ticket to places and events and access to people who and which I would have otherwise never experienced because of my tiny skill set, my oafishness and my pathetic lack of intellect.

All I really brought to the game was a willingness to outwork anyone around me and a desire to write a pleasing uncomplicated sentence.

But how you are matters far more that who you are and what you are.

I didn't offer much more beyond being honest and an attempt to be objective and willingness to be a quick enough study of a personality or event or issue, so I could be reliable enough to turn a story that my editor could use.

My greatest delight in the business was to come in on a Saturday morning and be given a routine assignment or taking a police story and plunging in so I could "write it" to the front page on Sunday.


Robert, the reporter you are referring to is not Andy, but rather John Fritze. The memo was written by the managing editor, Nancy Winkley. Fritze now covers Congress and the White House for USA Today. His skill set then and now is immense. Plus, he is a wonderful person. I don't know what became of Winkley. At one time she was a great reporter, a fine writer.

Finally, Robert. I don't get it, I truly don't, so please, tell me: Why are you so angry? Why must you train your ire on people here? You will see that I have used my name. Google me. Most of my really good stuff is no longer on the Web, but there might be a story or two left in an archive somewhere. Will it meet your standard? Doubtful. But here's the deal: I tried hard almost every single day when I was in journalism and so did nearly everyone else around me.

2010-04-29 08:58:39

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Ruthie: Though you managed to hang around longer than I did after Gannett came in, what amazed me most was how quickly the general atmosphere of the place changed under certain editors and their deputies. That started during the merger of The Star and The News and was in full-blown fury in the tumult that followed. I can remember certain ACEs who would cry or get physically sick before the Tuesday morning meetings with a certain someone.

Two days before I left I asked that certain someone point-blank why that certain someone enjoyed bullying people so much. I like to think my question got right to the issue because that certain someone did resign and leave within a few months after I left.

I am very happy these days, having found gainful employment outside journalism.

Sometimes, though, I wonder what kinds of stories I would have been able to produce now with the video and audio and social networking that is available.

Do you ever wonder about that?

Sometimes I felt my narrative was limited by my own "lack of skills" and often wished I had in my arsenal the actualities that tv and radio could use.

2010-04-29 09:39:26

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 09:53:06

John Howard [unverified] said:

I will take the tiny skillset crowd over the solitary enormous ego any day.

The former are able to learn and grow. They are not burdened with being all-knowing, perfect or self-absorbed.

2010-04-29 10:09:33

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

I work for a non-profit organization that is incorporated under cooperative business model.

One thing I have learned under a cooperative philosophy is the value of collaboration.

That notion dovetails nicely with the problem of people who have small skillsets.

We all come to the table with small skillsets. Very few of us have immense and multi-faceted talents; few of us are blessed with genius intellects.

But here's the deal and it applies to so many things that are -- at their core -- a collaborative function: Let's say you have a hunter who has a deadly aim but is clumsy of foot. When that hunter joins with the near-sighted tracker who has an uncanny ability to locate the prey without scaring it, then both eat dinner. Apart, the table lacks meat.

I realize this is a simplistic analogy, so please Robert, don't punch me too hard.

In the final analysis, we all must work with what we have.

2010-04-29 11:09:29

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 11:34:51

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Disclaimer: I never worked for Gannett and I admittedly do have small skill sets. I am also a coward because I am anonymous on this blog and also because I am afraid of spiders, snakes, blood tests and most Republicans.

With that said...

I have been reading these recent discussions with interest.

Before Robert came aboard, my credibility and my opinions were jumped on constantly by a couple of "regulars" on here - particularly one.

But no one cried "foul" in my behalf and so I (for the most part) quit posting here.

It was like every statement I made was placed under a microscope and searched for any miniscule tidbit to passionately dispute (as if I have time to research in anal-retentive detail intricate details to support any opinion I tossed out).

I began to get the feeling: If you aren't "one of the gang (as in 'Old Star')," then you aren't really welcome here.

So, I do believe there is at least some limited degree of application here of the sage ancient words of wisdom: "he who is without sin, cast the first stone."

2010-04-29 13:01:50

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Whitebeard for President.

2010-04-29 13:18:31

More about Wenalway/Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

From here:

Robert Knilands, who often posts insulting comments here under the name Wenalway, was banned from two years ago for being unable to engage in any sort of civilized discussion on here. For some reason, even though he's repeatedly stated how much he hates this site and everyone who posts on it, he has returned and resumed posting his repetitive, uncreative and insulting comments.

Please don't respond to his comments, as I'll eventually delete them. If you're interested in judging for yourself the online behavior of Robert Knilands / Wenalway, you can look at the July 3 Open Thread.

Robert Knilands / Wenalway will no doubt stick around for a few days, posting more insults like a monkey throwing feces at the wall of his cage, and he will continue to threaten me with lawsuits for whatever offense he's imagined today.

So please remember, as you read for a while, that Robert Knilands / Wenalway is banned for repetitive posting of infantile and insulting comments. Thanks, and sorry for the hassle.

2010-04-29 13:28:44

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 14:54:57

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 15:23:33

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Bob, you speak of former Star staffers and Gannetters in very familiar pejoratives.

Yet I do not believe you worked at the Star, or for Gannett.

From whence comes your personal knowledge and insights about their shortcomings and tiny-youknows?

2010-04-29 16:36:39

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 17:08:05

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 17:31:45

Wenalway/Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

My name is Robert Knilands. I use the internet handle Wenalway to act boorishly online.

I live in my parents basement in Piper City, IL.

I run a website in which there have been 5768 posts. 5636 of them have been by me.

2010-04-29 20:31:43

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2010-04-29 21:23:17

ruthholl [Member] said:

Good god.
Whitebeard, welcome back.
George, you evoke many happy memories.
Robert, old boy, you could benefit from longterm therapy. But this site ain't it.
Good luck and good bye.

2010-04-30 07:16:35

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