'Here come the terms.'

Dateline: Sun 29 Jul 2012

That's a line from the brilliant comedy movie 'Tootsie,' spoken when Tootsie, a man masquerading as a woman, lays down the law during a live TV soap opera production. It's too complicated to explain, but the point is: here are the terms of the Star's new operation, as laid out by publisher Karen Crotchfeldt on Page A2 today:

"Full Access digital-only subscriptions are available for $12 a month, only 40 cents a day. Beginning Sept. 1, we will limit access to news and information content consumed through our website, smartphones and tablets. Nonsubscribers still will be able to read up to 20 stories a month on IndyStar.com before needing to subscribe.

"We are committed to continuing to provide you with in-depth stories and compelling journalism in timely and meaningful ways. To be able to deliver on that commitment, we are raising some of our subscription prices. In August, you will get a letter from me outlining the specific changes to your subscription. The new rates are effective Sept. 1, but we will honor your current rate until your next billing cycle. We have not made this decision lightly. A Full Access subscription, including home delivery of the print edition each day, will be a great value at only 76 cents a day."

I will remain loyal (probably renew for a year or six months) but comments made about Crotchfelt's logic indicates many readers will fall away.

I include some here, because they make some of the same points this blog has hammered home -- the Star is practicing boosterism more than journalism; the Star lacks strong local conservative voices, or at least it lacks alternative voices to the predictable views of Matt Tully, Erika Smith (transportation obsessed) and Dan Carpenter; the Star is beaten continually by other local outlets, etc. etc. etc.

From local blogger Paul K. Ogden:

"This is the third time I've written this. The site keeps locking up and I have to open it again. Anyway, I agree the Star needed to update its business model. But the biggest problem with the Star is content. The Star became a cheerleader for the City instead of acting as a watchdog on City officials. The Star even became an investor in the Conseco Fieldhouse, which made it difficult for the Star to question when taxpayers were asked to shell out $33.5 million for the Pacers. The Star wrote no investigative piece exposing the fact the Pacers were never going to move and that the CIB and the City unnecessarily gave away our tax dollars. Another example: Has the Star ever written an article exposing the Broad Ripple Parking Garage deal? We taxpayers pay to build the thing, and 100% of the ownership and 100% of the profits from commercial rents and parking go to Keystone Construction, a major contributor to the Mayor. Then you have the complete absence of the Star when it came to exposing the sweetheart parking meter deal. The Star's political columnists Matt Tully and Erika Smith can't seem to find anything controversial in the City to write about. They are about as far from the legacy of Dick Cady as you can get. :

(Note: another reader corrected him; the Star invested in the Circle Center mall project, which it typically disclosed when writing about the Downtown Simon mall))

From Doug Stephenson:

I've said it many times- I will pay for access to local news and good reporting. I WONT pay for a jumble of AP press blurbs and 3 op-ed writers. Please take the cash influx from the building sale and hire more reporters, photographers, and support staff. Cover local and regional news thoroughly. This means a report from all CCC meetings, many schoolboard meetings, and public forums on local issues. There should be a reporter assigned to the Mayor's office and for that matter several assigned to the State Capitol since it is 5 blocks away.

From Vincent Braun:

"I will limit my reading of the Star. I'm not paying for it, you already make a profit from your over use and over price of ads. I hate that when I open your website I have to wait for the page to stop shifting up and down from the opening ad before reading anything. The Brickyard ad at the top is annoying. 

"Honestly tho, it is the liberal lean that has gotten to be most annoying of all. Except for Varvel, you print stories with headlines out of context, ie. the headline for the story saying the woman was ordained a Catholic priest knowing full well the Church doesn't recognize it, or stories that are completely one sided. It's gotten old and except for the Colts, I probably will rely on other sources."

Richard Skull:


"Not unreasonable, but the news is exactly the same on any of the local TV station websites. Goodbye IndyStar. Charging for web access will be your death knell."
To the paper's credit, top editors/execs are attempting to respond to some of the concerns.


hendy [Member] said:

I'm reminded of Leo Kottke's Goodnight, Irene. Time to start considering shorting Gannett's stock again. Might as well make money on the way down, as the way up.

2012-07-29 11:33:27

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I'm still a subscriber to the paper (my wife wouldn't let me cancel it) and I am finding less and less and less of any value in it, journalistically speaking.

I don't understand this thing of making the paper "Commentator Personality Focus Heavy" instead of solid reporting heavy.

Also, The Star does very little state reporting these days. I used to enjoy so much the news, features and photos about tiny places in Indiana that I'd never heard about.

Instead of reading The Star to find solid government reporting and hard-knuckles investigative reporting, I find KRAVITZ, TULLY, SMITH, CARPENTER usually boring me to tears. The "news" commentators generally take the lazy way out with their columns. I get so tired of reading in Tully's column how that he bases an entire piece over "coffee with (whomever) in a downtown coffee shop." Maybe he should think about getting out of the coffee shops and out onto the streets to talk to Joe and Jane Sixpack instead of the self-promoting "movers and shakers" he appears to be so drawn to.

Well, I don't feel good today, so I'm grouchy. Guess I'd better just shut up now or I could write a book here.

I'll be working on my wife about dropping our subscription, but probably will only be able to work out a compromise (at best). After 33 years of marriage, I know to expect who will win that contest. :)

2012-07-29 13:21:01

Boosterism at its best [unverified] said:

"the Star is practicing boosterism"
Ruthie, you are so on the money again! Did you see the comments from the marketing director and the new editor? I laugh at how all of them pretend to be interested in The Star or Indianapolis or providing quality journalism for residents. None of them are local and none of them are interested in any more than continuing to receive that Gannett high-level manager salary. They do it here but would easily do it in Timbuktoo as long as the salary comes with it.
This was always my complaint about Gannett. Why do they constantly try to pull off as "in your best interest" efforts that are pure bottom-line driven business decisions and then sell you on how good they are for you?
By leaving the building, they're saving money and becoming the Louisville bureau others predicted they would become. By changing their "business plan" they're doing everything they can to lower costs and raise revenue to stay afloat. Did anyone else see this coming when they hired the editor from Detroit to do the same thing here that they did in Detroit a few years ago? It's just a matter of time before the print product is only available Thursday-Sunday, just as it is in Detroit.
Perhaps the most insulting is that at one time, they employed a stable of journalists who would see right through such efforts if they were conducted at any other business or government agency. Alas, most of those left are following the course of their out-of-town leaders: just hang on. Maybe I'll make it to retirement. Good luck my friend.

2012-07-29 14:08:54

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

The best part is that we each can read 20 article a month without paying.

It's unlikely there will be more than 20 articles per month WORTH reading....

2012-07-29 16:32:56

hendy [Member] said:

I wish Ruth had a "like" button, Ms Cynical.

2012-07-29 17:22:12

ruthholl [Member] said:

On the columnists: Agree with WB that too much time is spent talking to boring self-important talking heads and rarely with the little people. There's almost no human interest coming from any of these guys anymore. Tom Keating delighted people because he told stories about people...he did not hang with the bigwigs and blowhards, picking their brains and regurgitating like a PR hack.
And yeah, Booserism, the boosterism aspect is amusing. Crotchfelt had to spend two or three paragraphs clearing her throat, pretending to know the history of the city (she does, thanks to an encyclopedia). All as preamble to delivering the coup de grace.
I did not make the Detroit connection; thanks for drawing the lines.
Anybody else hear rumors of outside investors creating something where nothing is?
Thank you Ms. Cynical for making Hendy "like"
I like it too.

2012-07-29 18:52:14

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Overall, why don't we just let Myra Borschoff and Eric Johnson and crew write the damned paper? It's where we're headed. Why not cut to the chase?

Miss Ruthie, you know I love you more than my luggage, but back off the "lack of conservative voices." You old-line Star folk don't remember the hack articles EP used to demand for Dan Quayle and against Birch Bayh, and more. For decades. The editorial pages since Gannett bought out the family, are more balanced and fair. You can get a little of everything on those pages. We put up with decades of stale Loeb-type nonsense. And it doesn't get any more hack than promoting your own slow-witted grandson. And propping up your Water Co. friends on that whole Geist thing, whose profits should've been shared with ratepayers, not stockholders...and which Birch Bayh saw through. That whole subject was only one of several vindictive Bircher EP rants that evoked the popular saying: "Indianapolis is the only major American city without a real daily newspaper." Oy vey. There were plenty of good writers. But not nearly enough.

I'll pay for content for awhile. Despite the lady publisher's 2000-word vomit disguised as explanation. What an asshat public roll-out. Admit it: your print version is not good. Your online version is your future. Charge a fair amount and move on. Hope springs eternal.

I could explain that in 200 words or less. I waded through her article twice to make sure I was not missing anything. She's a wretched writer. She tried to hide the fact she's delivering a sea-change announcement. Big deal. We all expected it.

Sunday Star update: with the twice-read Publisher's letter, total time commitment today, including several obits (God I'm getting older): 22. Yeah I time it every Sunday. It's already in the winter kindling pile.

2012-07-29 19:40:46

John Howard [unverified] said:

And below that story, they published a note about having press problems and this would delay delivery of tomorrow's paper.

I've seen the same notice about the same 'problem' at least 4-5 times recently.

What's up with that?

2012-07-29 20:13:49

hendy [Member] said:

Couldn't be union problems....

It's my hope that they at least ad some value by trashing their CMS and getting one that's worth using. The online edition is just so lame and 2005. Even a bozo like me can do better.

Here's my caveat and disclaimer: I just sent another unpaid, op-ed column to the IBJ. And my question to the readers of this fine and esteemed (sometimes steamed) space: Should I be quiet about IndyStar et al if I'm throwing rubber bullets from the op-ed side of the IBJs staple page?

I know being a liberal capitalist is often an oxymoron. Let me know if I should shut up. I'll listen.

2012-07-29 20:47:34

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"Let me know if I should shut up. I'll listen."

Hendy, I still write freelance stuff for newspapers and magazines and that has never shut me up.

I think just about anyone could find some reason to disqualify themselves from publicly articulating opinions if they worked on it for awhile.

But for us, Hendy, nah. It's a part of who we are and what we do. Our brains would explode, like in that movie "Martian Attacks."

I have known people who struggle with some post-venting anxiety, but it usually subsides in a very short time.

2012-07-29 23:15:43

guy77money [unverified] said:

The problem (which most of you have so
eloquently stated above) is going to who in their right mind will pay for the Star's content. Your all had one two many drinks if you truly believe Gannett
will go out and hire more reporters and editors. Sound the death knoll the Star which is slowly sinking into obscurity.

2012-07-30 00:32:00

guy77money [unverified] said:

Dang it all one of these days I will learn how to read what I post before I hit the enter button:

The problem (which most of you have so
eloquently stated above) is going to be just who in their right mind will pay for the Star's content. Your all had one two many drinks if you truly believe Gannett will spend money and go out and hire more reporters and editors. Sound the death knoll! The Star is slowly sinking into obscurity. If it wasn't for the coupons, comics and sports it wouldn't be worth reading. Actually I rarely read the sports page anymore since all of the college and pro sports and racing news can be had elsewhere online.

2012-07-30 00:32:00

2012-07-30 00:41:45

escapedbeforebeinggannettized [unverified] said:

If you read, as one says, "here come the terms", you can buy the digital online version only for 40 cents a day / $12 a month.
If you carefully read the other offer: A Full Access Subscription, including home delivery, is also available for 76 cents a day = $22.80 per month. It's a forced pkg. buy for the newspaper and the on-line product. You cannot just buy the hard copy newspaper subscription. You can, but part of what you are paying includes costs for the online portion, whether you use it or not or want it or not.
Nice way they spin the thing.

2012-08-02 14:54:21

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