20 Guild members down and out in Indy

Dateline: Mon 19 Mar 2012

The word was out late last week that the Indianapolis Star is offering 20 buyouts exclusively to Guild members.

The strategy is once again to cull older employees, but union-busting as a side issue is a bonus point for publisher Keren Crotchfelt.  The Guild is a thorn in her paw that she would dearly like to extract.

Those targeted by this latest ploy of course also represent institutional memory, but that's of no concedrn to Gannett, which knows it can always hire cheap young talent.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder what the kids are thinking, since newspapers are officially at the bottom of the barrel in terms of job growth. "America's fastest-shrinking industry," along with other categories that proved to be not recession-proof: restaurants, retail, construction. Internet and renewables/environement are at the top.


I prefer the commentary by Alexander Marlow, who writes on breitbart.com

"Simply put, newspapers have become obsolete in the Internet age.  Why would anyone rely on a once-daily paper when they can get information in real time online?  News websites like this one are updated constantly throughout the day and the latest headlines break on twitter in mere moments.  And now in the world of iPads, smartphones, and lightweight laptops, people have access to breaking news just about anywhere on the planet. 

"Furthermore, much has been done to educate the American people (in particular) on how unethically biased most of the dead-tree papers have been for generations.  The vast majority of newspapers deliver virtually the same news with virtually the same (liberal) slant.  So as the World Wide Web rapidly and inevitably becomes the most common way people read their news, how many allegedly-unbiased-but-actually-lefty newspapers are necessary?  It’s hard to say for sure, but not nearly as many as we have.

"Additionally, in recent years, some of the best reportage has been done on-line at sites like this one, proving a New York Times-style newsroom is unnecessary to break stories and drive narratives. 

"One of Andrew Breitbart’s ambitions was to create a democratized media, a media where citizen-journalists and a couple of online-editors could scoop the biggest networks and publish what the old-school media would not.  That’s what we’re witnessing before our eyes, and we’re better off for it."

But with my dying breath, I will bless newspapers for what they were, and that includes yesterday's New York Times. I don't completely agree with Mr. Marlow. There's still good stuff being written. The real crisis will come when journalism is so denigrated that nobody wants to do it -- at least not the heavy lifting. Pray that day never comes.

But it will.


George Stuteville [unverified] said:

I, too, will bless newspapers to my dying day for what they were. I am so grateful for the time I spent with them in my life. They gave me an opportunity to see and be places and talk to people that I would have otherwise missed in an ordinary profession. I do believe we got the last big heaping slice of that pie.

2012-03-19 09:35:03

ComputerWheels [Member] said:

I, too, enjoyed working on newspapers. But what concerns me the most is that the web is full of unreliable "facts." When indystar.com was established, a key goal was to preserve The Star as a reliable brand and a source of real news. Now who do you trust? Anyone can submit "community news" that can be biased, and morons everywhere are advancing slanted news, hatred and who the heck knows what. Now Gannett wants indystar.com readers to pay, and it will be even less relevant since the same news can be found elsewhere for free. So goodbye print Star and, soon, goodbye indystar.com. Let's see the big wigs collect big paychecks when Gannett crashes.

2012-03-19 10:36:07

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

I'm with George on this one.

Who knew we worked at The Star during the glory days of newspaper journalism?

2012-03-19 12:14:53

indykjsharp [unverified] said:

Breitbart? REALLY?

This statement is a pile of crap: "... a New York Times-style newsroom is unnecessary to break stories and drive narratives."

The NYT reported last week, front page and above the fold, that 3.7 million people will be affected by rising sea water because of climate change. But nobody gives a damn, because we all know the most important story on earth is the Kony video and the 2012 premier of Dancing with the Stars.

The NYT op-ed page printed an op-ed from a Goldman Sachs exec who quit because of the perverse culture that's developed over the past 10 years, and it sent a ripple across Wall Street.

Every day, the NYT has reporters in all corners of the U.S. and across the globe reporting the news. There is no peer in print or online for this news source. If you love the news, buy a newspaper, for pete's sake.

Locally, the phoenix IS RISING. Pick up a NUVO. Weidenbener, Annis, others laid off by the corporate media... the talent is going there. The advertising is going there. Maybe they'll even get to drop the sex ads someday!

2012-03-19 20:20:01

escapedbeforebeinggannettized [unverified] said:

Local community newspapers have fared much better during these last five to seven years. They have felt the pinch of the economy, but not as devastingly as the larger metros. Locals in small towns like Franklin, Shelbyville, Lebanon, Connersville, etc. have a source of news and points of interests in their local paper that they can't read about anywhere else. They enjoy articles and features on local politics, high school sports, local hospital info., births/deaths, local
chili suppers, weddings, fundraisers, church events, chamber of commerce meetings,
local park events, etc. This is the perfect example of where smaller is better in a more community focused way. The groundwork was there for the Star to do this on a larger scale about seven or eight years ago, but they never capitalized on it. Focusing on Broadripple, Irvington, Speedway, Beech Grove, Nora, etc. was
a concept that would have been easily integrated with the metro on a larger scale product, but it all fell apart. Too many chiefs, too many managers, not enough leaders & take charge implementers. They are past the point of no return on that now.

2012-03-19 20:33:55

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Sad day for those 20. Q: What happens if they refuse? Are they then hounded relentlessly until they leave?

Every Sunday's NYT is a joy to behold, from the magazine to Style to Travel----it's a romantic read that lets me escape, or delve into the great in-depth news reporting. It sits on my footstool all week, after a Sunday perusal, and I gladly revisit its pages throughout the week.

That was never, ever the case with The Star. I loved reading it, but it was never more than 30-40 minutes.
The opinion pages swere a rightwing joke. Cackie Loeb had nothing on ESP.

But there were solid writers--you included--that kept me coming back. Now, there are none. Not one that I'd put in the category of "solid." A few acceptable ones, who occasionally hit a ground-rule double, or a triple on rare days.

Ben Cole weeps. Ed Z, too. Indiana politics is so solorful and rich, yet Tully sits on his ass or when he does venture into his story-rich territory, it's a long series on Manual HS. Which was good, but is only a small fraction of what's out there. It makes you weep for lost daily opportunity.

I'll pay the monthly online fee when they get it set up. Until it hits $6-7. That's my limit. Above that and they've lost me. When they get better writers who pursue great stories every day, I'll pay more. Until then, frankly, it's not worth any more.

2012-03-20 06:23:34

John Howard [unverified] said:

I wish just one newpaper would learn their strength (and future) is not in creating another flashy eye-candy website, but to publish a densely-populated-with-real-news electronic paper.

Fit the damn ads in where there are holes in the news. Quit dribbling bits of news, especially those that say no more than 'we will update this story with more information as it becomes available' in the remaining space after all the ads have been laid out.

The Star hit bottom over the weekend, when their online 'story' about the Canal shootings was entirely devoid of content. No words, no photos, not even a punctuation mark. Total whitespace! It was like that for at least a day and a half.

Give me a traditional newpaper format for my iPad (or insert your device of preference), can the Tully vs Smith mock debates, produce cleanly divided sections for city, state, living, sports, etc. and pack lots of real news in it from real reporters so I have more than a couple paragraphs to scan, and I'll buy it. Happily. Faithfully.

And I'd like to be able to stash it in a virtual 'magazine rack' so I could go back and read it tomorrow, or a week or a year later.

2012-03-20 18:46:45

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Me. too, John Howard.

But still, the feel of a large paper in my hands is priceless. I'm old-school that way.

2012-03-20 19:09:32

hendy [Member] said:

You swing the pendulum too far, Ruth. Media isn't going to the dogs, although Breitbart himself tried desperately to swing it that direction himself (see http://mediamatters.org/search/index?qstring=andrew+breitbart&from=&to=&tags=andrew_breitbart&tags=&tags=&tags=).

There are any number of new ways that the sinking of The Star is being backfilled with interesting media. Think of FB, Yelp, and various City Sites. TV has done a bit of replacement, and public media have increased their news and community services.

The days of movie reviews, book reviews, and even obits (thank you, legacy.com) are now done almost strictly by third parties. Politics are handled by a dozen different websites along with public media-- who do an even-handed job of it.

Pay the Guilders real $$ for an exit? Hurray. They can get into freelance work quickly and easily-- it isn't tough at all. There are lots of websites with editorial job listings. Yes, you lose part of your pension vesting and insurance change-ups are always a drag. Writers and journalists, however, are in high demand.

Will it be the old tintype days? Never again. But then, I won't have to watch my mother sling the paper across the room when she reads the witless mirth of a Varvel cartoon, or read a Tim Swaren piece that drips of the arrogant stupidity that disgraced the editorial page of Indianapolis-Alabama Star for decades.

2012-03-20 19:30:04

ruthholl [Member] said:

I love you guys.
Tomorrow, a more intelligent response, I hope.
My eyes are blind but my intentions are pure...and I am grateful that you stay with me despite a long silence.
Seriously: I love you guys.

2012-03-20 21:07:13

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

God bless your kind heart, Ruth. I'm more than half-blind too (30 years of diabetes and high blood pressure) and I often feel like crying when I can't see well enough to read my newspaper and sometimes not even well enough to see the NCAA tourney games on TV.

Love coming right back at you! And don't worry about those silences.

2012-03-20 22:47:31

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Silence is sometimes helpful.

So long as you're OK.

2012-03-21 06:35:39

farmgirl [unverified] said:

Hendy--you are not one of my kids under another name, are you? Because your mother sounds, at least, like my soul sister!
I love newspapers and I love journalism. I've tried to get editors interested in a number of stories that are not Pulitzer-worthy, nor political nor scandalous, but which I think readers would enjoy and appreciate. Nothing.
However, it's not necessarily new. Many years ago I was working a fairly major local development, and my husband, in a misguided loyalty to the Star, mentioned it to the city editor, who said, "Oh, they'll send us a news release when they're ready." And they did, about 4 months later.
I have some loyalty to the Star, also, but I agree with "escape" that community (or at least smaller) papers are where journalism is now.

2012-03-21 09:25:38

Jason [unverified] said:

Okay, when we're citing Media Matters as a refutation of Breitbart, and exhorting how incredibly valuable the New York Times is, I think this is one thread that devolved pretty quickly.

There has certainly been a radically different tenor in almost all mainstream media outlets since the last election, and news outlets like the Times and Media Matters have been at the forefront of it.

Once again, we tend to subscribe to the media version of things that's consistent with what we all think we already know to be true. The Times is a glaring example, with all their credibility and objectivity issues over the past 5 or 10 years people still subscribe because they like being told what they want to hear. Also, Media Matters is far more of a political organization than a credible media outlet, but yet they issue talking points to the media. Breitbart just picks up the table scraps that everybody else wants to ignore or scrub altogether.

IMHO, that is what killed good journalism. We can rant and rail all day long about Gannett, budget cutting, the flexibility of blog coverage, etc. The day that we allowed politics to dominate our news coverage was the day the bell started tolling. I still believe in old-fashioned newspapers, and I believe their approach to journalism would still be viable in today's culture. I just can't find one anywhere.

2012-03-21 11:00:35

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Jason says, "The day that we allowed politics to dominate our news coverage was the day the bell started tolling."

But that's not true. The Pulliams put out a paper riddled with politics ("my way or the highway"), yet there were bursts of brilliance that illuminated the seamy side of Indy.

They could tout Dan Quayle and out police corruption at the same time, just to give a couple of examples.

2012-03-21 13:05:58

hendy [Member] said:

@farmgirl, my mother sits in a nursing home, about 10% there on a good day. Her time is past, and past is her time.

@jason, my worldview has nothing to do with it. Referential integrity has *everything* to do with it. Citizen journalism is mostly an oxymoron. I believe in real journalism, no matter the outcome, no matter who's ox is gored. Truth is truth-- not "truthy". See Indiana University's truthy meme website if you think Breitbart's version of slander and fact-free innuendo is worth the time.

Old fashioned newspapers are very thankfully dead. The SFGate, NYTimes, WashPost and others are continuing to survive based on compelling actual news- online and in-print. The CMS system that Gannett uses is worse than Wordpress. It plainly is unusable. But this is about what's happened specifically to Guild Members, who are being wholesaled into retirement. I think it's a great thing for them, and twenty coffin nails for The Star. Imagine: take 20 of your best workers, experienced, Rolodexes to die for, seasoning in a city that reeks, and put them out to pasture. Soon they'll find better pastures, and with luck, in five years, Gannett wholesales the paper to someone that actually *cares*. Ok, perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. George, Ruth, and a dozen ex-Star people that put their hearts and souls into it helped make a promising city. In a similar way that a good newspaper bulds a city, a crappy one helps heap on malaise. Well, it's been heaped on too long for my tastes. I left for Bloomington, where the IDS and the HTO do a very respectable job.... except, amusingly, when politics are involved.

2012-03-21 18:49:26

John Howard [unverified] said:

Yes, Truth, I certainly enjoyed the big piece of paper and the smell of the ink, even if I DID have to wash my hands afterwards.

2012-03-21 21:48:21

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Jason: what the hell is wrong with Media Matters? Objective, factual....pretty solid, most of the time.

And Ms. Cynical, you are my new hero for best-defining the Pulliam mystique. The old man single-handedly (OK, with the Moses money and some other rightwing dipshits) thrust nephew Dan Quayle upon Indiana, then GWWB snapped him up for reasons known only to God. (We're sorry, America).

All for one reason: Eugene hated Birch Bayh, and so did the Moses family. Because their little cartel out at Geist was rightly fought tooth-and-nail by Bayh.

Birch lost that battle. A resevoir was created with federal legislation and rules, and the land around it was profitable only for a select few. (The Moses family ran Indpls. Water then). IWC ratepayers never, ever got a sniff of that huge windfall, and they sure as hell should've.

As noted, Cacky Loeb had nothing on the Pulliam family. But, the Cadys, Coles and Ziegners were given free reign more often than not.

They were great writers. I prefer to think of the long-leash as the Pulliam guilt.

Or the Great Cosmic Balancing Act.

But that Quayle thing permanently put the old man in a deficit position re: Cosmic Balancing.

2012-03-21 22:09:13

farm girl [unverified] said:

As for Dan Quayle, I have always maintained that when GWWB was looking for a running mate, someone suggested "that senator from Indiana" and GB just got the wrong one....

2012-03-21 22:36:39

Seneca [Member] said:

I think "Poppy" Bush (#41) picked Quayle because Quayle was the only person in the country who would not overshadow Bush. After all, Quayle was "no Jack Kennedy."

2012-03-22 05:52:11

Terry Horne [unverified] said:

Thank you Indyjksharp.
Modern American newspapers traditionally, including papers in the post-Watergate era, have not been unethically biased. Rather editors based their decisions on traditional news values involving judgments about the timeliness of the news, the impact upon readers, the proximity of the event to their readers, the degree to which the news represented conflict between individuals or groups, the prominence of the persons or entities involved, and the uniqueness of the event or act. Those values are “biases” but not in the sense of being liberal or conservative.
And while individual biases played a part in judgments about impact, conflict, prominence and the uniqueness of the news, most editors during my 25 years in newspapers, tended to reflect middle of the road, middle class values.
Newspapers (the news side of them) also served as acolytes of truth, a first defense against the inaccuracy, rank opinion, spin or outright lies that seem to mark 90 percent of what passes for news on sites that are not maintained by professional journalists.
Attacking newspapers and the so-called “main stream media” has always been a fashionable pastime of people or groups who believed their views were receiving insufficient attention. The criticism is healthy, even if much of it is bunk.

2012-03-22 12:09:06

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Ah, Terry!
You didn't work for a man who refused to write about the (late '60s) riots along Indiana Avenue because "it'd only encourage 'em".
Slanting coverage was the Pulliam way!

2012-03-22 16:59:11

farmgirl [unverified] said:

One night I was sitting next to the two reporters responsible for the Dan Quayle puffery--good guys,essentially--when one looked at the other and remarked, "Writing fiction is such fun!" And he was a member of the extended family, though not on the Quayle side...

2012-03-22 17:16:40

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Still, newspapers were fun to work in and at. Not particularly enriching, but seldom boring.

And they have become irrelevant in like measure to America's collective attention span becoming shorter. Which is happening and accelerating now thanks to iPhone. I though Bradbury's vision of a book burning dystopia glued to TV and drugs was simply unthinkable and undoable when I read it 55 years ago. Alas, both thinkable and done.

2012-03-23 14:15:35

Jake [unverified] said:

One of these days ya'll gonna have to pay a visit to Earth.

Google's revenue now greater than the entire newspaper industry »

Google made $37.9 billion in 2011; Newspapers made $24 billion in advertising and about $34 billion overall.


(Sorry, Tom, but millions of Americans are now reading MORE about political events on the web than they ever got from the heavily redacted dailies.)

2012-03-23 20:32:51

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Jake, more people are reading unqualified bloviated opinions than ever before, and there is so much utter falsehood propogated on the internet, Snopes is worn out.

Google's revenue proves my point. And reading blogs does not qualify anyone as literate. Any teacher will tell you that kids are less able to read, not to mention write, not to mention spell or create coherent sentences; and teenagers have withdrawal if parted from ipods and iphones (why do they imagine anyone is interested in what they ate for breakfast?). Indeed, Jake, more Americans are getting bad information electronically than they ever got from newspapers. And Fox continues to be one fo the worst offenders, propagating their nonsense and outright falshoods; they are the National Enquirer of television.

2012-03-24 16:31:23

Jake [unverified] said:

Kids are less literate because they have been taught by the lousy schools that newspapers have almost uniformly supported for decades. The decline began long before the Internet, iPods or other recent inventions.

The notion that newspapers have promoted insight or literacy is risible. They are not worth reading, and hence are dying.

2012-03-25 10:24:47

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Oh Ruthie dear...the Apocalypse is upon us.....IndyStar's latest push: two spoiled kids going ape-shit over their collection of popsicle stix. I kid you not. On and on and on...pictures, the whole nine yeards.

Yep. It's official. The Star is ireelevant.

2012-03-25 22:00:27

Tell The Truth [Member] said:


My fingers are still in mourning over IU's loss.

2012-03-26 05:58:46

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

T3, this is the 2nd feature the Star has run about the stick kid (he also has been on TV). He arranges the sticks against one another under tension and when released, they progressively fly apart in spectacular fashion. It looks good on TV. The kid did not invent the spectacle but seems to have taken it to new heights. It isn't merely a collection of sticks...but it still is pap. His parents must be pals with someone at the Star....

2012-03-26 06:44:04

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