'Bring out your dead' 'Thank you very much for reading the Star'

Dateline: Mon 30 Jul 2012

From Mary Louise Bewley, former deputy for communications with Indianapolis Public Schools and now working in a similar role at Lawrence Township, who wrote yesterday on the Star's website about changes taking place at the newspaper (Mainly, it's gonna cost more):

"OK, here's my two cents. The Star would be a much improved newspaper if there were folks on staff with some institutional knowledge of Indianapolis. Case in point: Today's Our Children Our City article that inaccurately describes all high schools in the city as part of IPS. The example given is Warren Centeral. Not in IPS. I understand when reporters are new to town...but to not have knowledgeable folks on the copy desk is inexcusable...I agre with those ...who have compalined about the lack of real content in the news section....And the Metro section would be better titled Bring Out Your Dead...."

Yes, and she forgot to mention that readers pay us for the privilege of Bringing Out Their Dead. (Guy did not get this reference, but he doesn't read the paper that well -- she's referring to the fact that the Metro/State section is often so news-less that it might as well be given entirely over to the obits, which it is...)

Bewley's comments are right on target and funny to boot. 

But the best part about all these comments are the unctous responses from Star management (sometimes REAL PEOPLE, sometimes just a cute little Yellow Star (for yellow journalism????) smiley face type symbol. OK, Yellow Star is not smiling, but you get the point. Yellow Star is smilig INSIDE.

Anyhow the answers are always so P.C., "Thanks for your suggestions, blah-blah" and then the bland reassurance that we're working to get all you say done. And I love it the way managers have been trained to repeat the name of the person they are answering, as if that's good bedside manner.

The whole thing is a hoot and a half. 

But enough.

Goodnight, Mr. Ryerson.





Slight correction [unverified] said:

Hi Ruth,
Ms. Bewley is now with Lawrence Township Schools in a similar position she had with IPS. No sure, but I suspect she and Superintendent Ramondi worked together in the past and it was an under-the-table job offer that was posted publicly AFTER she was hired.
Too bad there are no experienced journalists in town to sniff these things out. I have to wonder who on the copy desk missed that.

2012-07-30 09:02:19

ruthholl [Member] said:

Thanks for correcting that. I will fix it right away.
I saw her at a M-K forum on schools in the spring, where she was still representing IPS. I appreciate you letting me know.

2012-07-30 11:12:45

hendy [Member] said:

There were meetings. Lots of management meetings. A bunch of stuff was bandied about to deal with the new online pricing. How many ads can we sell? How will the new CMS work, and do we launch it with the price increase? Who's doing which segment, and what's the update cycle? I can imagine the machinations.

I wish them luck. I'll continue to read SFGate, NYTimes, Boston.Com, and a list of others. Even the local paper, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com does a better job.

2012-07-30 14:28:46

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Like the "Bring Out Your Dead" thing, Ruth. I can just hear those bodies thumping when they land on that big wooden cart.

I'm an outspoken critic of The Star and most newspapers these days, but I kind of wonder if, as Neil Young sang during one of his alcohol-lubricated albums, "We're all just pissin' in the wind. We don't know it, but we are."

I guess if the people who are the public faces of The Star weren't so full of hot air, I wouldn't be given to whipping that old lame horse (not that I would EVER whip a horse in real life).

Seems like a management staff who trained at the same school where a lot of used car dealers are educated. When I read that commentary by the publisher, it was like reading something from a really bad Beat writer essay (You know....Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, et al).

2012-07-30 15:35:48

John Howard [unverified] said:

Their replies gave me Joe Izuzu flashbacks.

2012-07-30 16:40:47

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Let's see:

Fire most of the long-time staffers (eliminating institutional memory not to mention knowing where the bodies are buried).

Hire kids from out of town to write about "what they know".

Buy into Downtown Inc.'s boosterism scenario (Georgia Street as a success story? really?)

Sell your landmark of a building.

Put a paywall up on the online version.

And the Gannettites wonder why Star circulation is on a downward slide?

2012-07-30 16:48:15

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I'm glad to see Mary Louse isn't shilling for Eugene White any more.

THAT was heavy lifting. She needed combat pay. He pushed her out-front on a couple of issues that had to be uncomfortable for her.

Speaking of large downtown buildings where there are brain drains...the Morton-Finney "Educational" Center comes to mind....

2012-07-30 16:57:06

hendy [Member] said:

A thought: could all of the high-profiled bloggers be posturing for their new jobs in PR? Maybe that would explain a somewhat rational guy like Tully pandering to radical-right-winger candidate Mike Pence.

2012-08-01 08:27:37

Traveler [unverified] said:

Four days in and the Star is doing a piss poor job in order to entice me to start paying up.

I'm starting to look at the website differently now, thinking of how many articles I would be enticed to click on to read and starting to see if I can find the same information elsewhere and without charge.

Right now the count is at 2 (and the "Wine Dude" isn't one of them).

One of them was the Q&A that ran on Monday about the pay policy. My favorite Facebook comment came from the Star who appreciated a commenter saying that they would gladly pay for the access. The Star responded with something along the lines of "We can't find the words to express how much that means to hear you say that." To which I found myself muttering "And that kind of sums up the crappy writing and editing in your paper at the moment. I dare say your (Star's) accountants wouldn't have that same problem expressing how much (exactly) it means to them."

2012-08-01 17:09:15

farm girl [unverified] said:

I am currently not in the area and would not miss much, but....how else am I going to get the obituaries? I'd use up my free 20 before the month was up.

2012-08-01 21:44:13

Tips [unverified] said:

Traveler -- I second that. I used to click on stories to occupy myself. Now I read the headlines and go to one of the TV stations' sites to find more information.

Farm girl -- Go to Legacy.com. They carry many obits, and most of the ones from The Star.

And that's the biggest problem with The Star. They give us nothing we can't get somewhere else. For REAL journalism, I go to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazzett for state news. Far superior and worth my time.

2012-08-02 06:33:12

Farm Girl [unverified] said:

Tips: Thank you! Will do.

2012-08-02 11:17:20

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"Maybe that would explain a somewhat rational guy like Tully pandering to radical-right-winger candidate Mike Pence."

Seems possible, Hendy. There might also be a motive of trying to make the commentary more acceptable to conservatives who read The Star.

But I agree with your perception that Tully seems to have joined Pence's campaign PR team.

2012-08-02 14:11:02

Traveler [unverified] said:

From the Star article about the rise in gasoline prices that ran on Thursday....

"Our wholesale prices beginning last Thursday have really gone up," said Scott Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Markets and Convenience Store Assocation. "I'm not exactly sure why."

Another example in action of Karen Crotchfelt's promise of improved journalism at we will all expected to pay $12/mo beginning in September.

Yes, the author, Bill McCleery, felt that this was a sufficient reporting to go online with an explanation why gas prices have risen over 60 cents within the last 5 days.

2012-08-04 09:24:15

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