The Star as a sellout, by Eugene Fisk

Dateline: Wed 27 Feb 2013

The following critique of the Indianapolis Star was written by Eugene Fisk, who describes himself as "maybe an activist" who previously wrote a blog called 

Now retired, Fisk obviously reads the Star and is concerned at the direction the paper is going -- which is, that it's become a cheerleader for projects rather than reporting and analyzing the news and weighing the merits of proposals. This is nowhere more apparent than the paper's shameless pandering for mass transit and its public realtions campaign for IndyCAN. Thanks, but I get enough of that at church. But that's another post.

Fisk sent his observations to the Star and to local bloggers Paul Ogden, (Ogden on Politics) Gary Welsh, (Advance Indiana) Pat Andrews (Had Enough Indy?) and myself.

"I"m not expecting anything out of this," he said in an email, "but doing 'something' feels better than doing nothing." Adds Fisk, when I asked him about his background and agenda: "Try not to be too wacko about it - I don't want to be remembered for having a manifesto, or typing out a load of gibberish on rolls of old thermal fax paper. And I'm not looking to 'fit in' or adapt to one political party because I don't seem to have an ideological home." He never worked for government, he said.

I think his critique of the Star is spot on. The Star has shamelessly promoted a pro-mass transit/light rail agenda without asking any tough questions and just assuming taxpayers want to pay for light rail. Then the Star's liberal columnist Dan Carpenter got on the bandwagon and started shilling for money to go to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and I thought, as the British did when we won the revolution, that "the world turned upside down."

The above-mentioned bloggers all write tirelessly about these issues, more prolifically and with more inside information than I do. I urge you to read them.

But for those of us who care about the integrity of the daily newspaper, please read and consider what Mr. Fisk says. Because, I think, he's absolutely right...and in a future post, I'll print his response to what Gannett bigwigs had to say to him.

Here's what he sent out, mid-February:

"How the Indianapolis Star let down the people

February, 2013

(Copyright Unigov LLC,, 2013)



The Star, Today

• The Star is the biggest and most influential media outlet in Central Indiana.

• In a city rife with corruption, the Star seldom investigates anything.

• The Star blindly promotes any government or business activity that might prop up

the depressed economy, in order to keep Gannett in business.

• The Star's 2013 "Legislative Agenda" blindly promotes more government


• The Star appears to be unfamiliar with Gannett ethics policies.

The "Ruling Class"

• The KKK and Jim Crow

• A self-appointed Ruling Class of rich well-connected people, mostly white, now

dictate every aspect of Indiana's economy and government

• The Ruling Class's system: raise taxes, grab the money, repeat.

• The Ruling Class's toolkit: Bribery. Control the message. Placate the left.

• The Ruling Class's goal: build a new, white Indy in the doughnut counties.

End Game
Addendum: Examples
• What the Star promotes
• What the Star ignores
• Never-ending money grab
• Racism and oppression"


anthony webber [unverified] said:

Zionsville Lawyer, Derek F Johnson, takes Advantage of Woman in Small Claims Court.

2013-02-28 00:26:01

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

The expression "beating a dead horse" was never more apt. Unfortunately. The Star has abdicated its role of investigative reporting and taken on the job of PR flack for influential interests.

2013-02-28 04:30:18

hendy [Member] said:

His observations aren't news. They only corroborate what many of us feel, and have felt for decades. The Indianapolis Times gave the Pulliams competition. There hasn't been one, so in a monopolistic business model, things usually sink to the lowest common denominator, lacking motivation to rise.

So it sank. No one is surprised. The quid pro quo of the Central Indiana power system learned its approach from the titans of Alabama. We've got all the good stuff ranging from poverty through to deep segregation. The KKK stopped wearing hoods around here. They just learned how to occupy the legislature and control the media. Shameful? We're way past shame.

2013-02-28 09:05:56

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Indianapolis Star=Newspaper Lite.

A quarter of the calories with no taste.

2013-02-28 16:11:30

Homer [Member] said:

I would never argue that the Star is a great newspaper. Editorial policies of metropolitan media generally support pro-growth policies. However, the cranky raving on Mr. Fisk's website is mainly a protest against government spending without much evidence that the Star has failed to host public conversation about issues.

To say that the Star blindly promotes all business and and all government activity means to me that he doesn't read the paper. Matt Tully has done interesting work on the IPS school system. Erika Smith has questioned the silly and expensive rail line included in the transit plan. There have been investigations into utility regulation, child welfare, wrongdoing among public officials and more.

Would I like to see more investigation? Sure. It's expensive, though, and the fact that so many city residents choose to pick from free media rather than supporting the local newspaper insures that the job cannot be fully done. It's like standing away from the political process and then saying you're not represented. And anyone who condemns Dan Carpenter as a fellow traveler of the Chamber of Commerce because he supports the survival of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway simply hasn't been paying attention.

In his short tenure here, I believe Jeff Taylor has done well to produce more deep reporting than we've seen in some time.

2013-02-28 16:52:13

hendy [Member] said:

This is Ruth's space. But I have to disagree with your sense of value of the Star. I would subscribe today, in my new hometown of Bloomington, if there was any more worth than bird cage liner.

I know in fact that investigative research takes money. I'm a researcher for a living. I'm not cheap. And I produce results.

That said, this is a running dog sycophantic lackey rag of its advertisers and whomever its pitiful voice can lick the feet in the legislature. Dan Carpenter needs his head examined for supporting public money support for the IMS INC crowd. Let them invest in themselves. This corrupt sense of "halo" investments must cease.

Erika Smith has brass. Tully.... hey wait, let me check which way the breeze is blowing. Gannett is strictly interested in shareholder returns. They give a rat's potottie for Indianapolis, or Central Indiana, or anything they don't control, IMHO. This was once a decent if insane newspaper, and for decades, a monopoly. Most monopolies sink to the bottom, rather than being compelled by competition to the top. Gannett bravely bought a monopoly (note sarcasm) that was a cash cow, another oil well for their basement. They are not compelled to produce excellence, merely a good report to Wall Street on Earnings Day. Don't be deluded otherwise.

2013-02-28 17:31:07

hendy [Member] said:

And it gets worse, and has been getting worse in Central Indiana for decades; see:

2013-02-28 19:32:01

Jake [unverified] said:

Why should the Star be better than the NY Times and Washington Post, who ignored Bradley Manning's offer to document military abuses?

American journalists are shills for politicians. Nothing more.

2013-03-01 00:03:18

Gene [unverified] said:

hendy: "To say that the Star blindly promotes all business and and all government activity means to me that he doesn't read the paper."

Hmmm....the Star overwhelmingly supported the following:

1) Lucas Oil Stadium construction with tax money
2) Ditto, Bankers Life Fieldhouse
3) Ditto, Convention Center expansion(s)
4) HB 1011, the mass transit bill, a racist corporate welfare scheme
5) The illegal Speedway bailout
6) Taxpayer financing of the NoSo Lilly Hotel deal
7) Giving $8 million of tax money to Kite to build their hotel
8) The Simon HQ subsidy

How about you name a subsidy or bailout the Star opposed ?

2013-03-01 23:25:59

hendy [Member] said:

I didn't say that, but Homer, above, did.

2013-03-02 07:14:21

Hack [unverified] said:

Do the people of Zimbabwe feel better with a Black ruling class? The problem is not with class, it is with rule.

2013-03-04 21:48:07

John Russell [unverified] said:

The Star "seldom investigates anything" -- really? In the past 12-18 months, The Star has published major investigative stories on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the Indiana Department of Child Services, the Indiana Department of Transportation, among others.

Those investigations have led to indictments, resignations, firings, ethics reprimands and government hearings -- as well as state and national journalism awards.

Every news outlet can always do more. But give The Star credit where it is do.

2013-03-06 15:40:23

John Russell [unverified] said:

where it is *due*

2013-03-06 17:23:08

hendy [Member] said:

In this case, where it "doesn't". Most of these were droppings-- found by the TV stations and the IBJ. What's needed? The unpopular. The quid pro quo of why campaign contributions==legislation. Why Major Moves made Major Money for several contractors. Why I-69 real estate is over-priced, and how insiders made $$$. You cite four stories over 18 months. Must be a nice life.

Wait until ratepayers have to eat coal gasification. Marble Hill II. Or how we still have to feed the steam monstor at Morris and Harding-- and kill recycling programs to keep that monster producing steam.

How years of poor planning by the legislature will bubble up when the property tax reform caps cause a crowbar to dwindling state revenue-- now that the foot is on the garden hose of casino/betting money.

Oh, the issues are long, the work huge, and the Gannett funding for real news-- but a pittance. Look, John Russell, at the Indpls Star of March 2008, and what it looks like a scant half-dozen years later. Pick any issue, any day. Odd that I have a few. Then go to your "newsstand" and tell me that this paper isn't circling the drain. Monopolies eventually die. Competition is good.

2013-03-06 17:51:36

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