Star gets a spanking

Dateline: Tue 28 Oct 2008

Irate letters to the editor published in this morning's Indianapolis Star show that readers are vexed by the editorial board's refusal to endorse a presidential candidate Sunday.

The paper has "abdicated its responsibility," and chosen to ignore "a historic time for Indiana," are among thoughts expressed.

Publisher Michael Kane's explanation is also included, and it's not worth the paper it was written on.

But the Star's inability to reach a consensus among its eight editorial borad members, and the publisher's refusal to "break the tie," are bad signs for Sen. John McCain. When Karl Rove puts Indiana in the Obama camp, as he did Sunday on Fox, you know it's "big trouble for Moose and Squirrel," as the Bulwinkle cartoon used to prophesy.

Still, Dems can't take anything for granted. The word on the street is: keep making those calls and canvassing for Obama.

And you can safely ignore the Star. By its own choice and hand, it is not a player. What a day.

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Papers pick Obama

Dateline: Mon 27 Oct 2008

Editor and Publisher is reporting on newspaper endorsements of Obama vs. McCain; it's "a rout" for Obama, with him leading Friday 160 to 59 for McCain. Most tellingly, many papers that previously backed Bush have switched. Also telling: the Anchorage newspaper came out for Obama.

Here is the lead, published today -- for more updates, go to the E and P link on the blogroll on the right side of this page:

"The Obama lead in editorial endorsements this year turned into a landslide, even a rout today, as dozens of additiional papers backed him, compared to the relative handful for McCain.

"Two more major papers that had backed Bush in 2004--the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Providence Journal--came out for Obama, joining at least 35 others who had done the same thing already.

"In another embarrassment for McCain, the Indianapolis Star, which also supported Bush in 2004, revealed that it would not endorse this year. At least two other Bush 2004 papers, the Ann Arbor (Mich.) News and the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star, took the same route."

Again, I would say the Star's wimp-out is less of an embarrassment for McCain and more for its management. What a time to sit on the fence.

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Two very different parties

Dateline: Mon 27 Oct 2008

This is from a friend who prefers that her name not be used. But her reflections are worth sharing:

"An acquaintance had four tickets to the Palin rally. In our group of 8 or so ordinary Hoosier women having dinner together, she couldn't give them away! Two of

our group had been to the Obama rally; others said they wished they could have gone, but had to work.

"The Republicans don't send their presidential candidate to Indiana at all, and have their lame vp candidate's rally far from the city, in a place reachable only by car, and make people go somewhere to pick up tickets in advance.

"The Democrats have their presidential candidate's rallies at the Fairgrounds, accessible by car, bus or foot, and in downtown Indy, accessible by bus, foot, bike, car or wheelchair. No advance tickets, just whoever shows up is welcome.

"The contrasts say a lot about the two parties and whose concerns they represent."

Amen to all that.

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Forbes on the news biz

Dateline: Mon 27 Oct 2008

Thanks to reader/friend Tom Henderson for sending a link to a Forbes article on newspapers and their woes. Here are the first few graphs from James Erik Abels, published Friday:

"There's nothing like bad news to sell newspapers. Unless there are no newspapers left to sell.

"Many people are wondering if this may soon be a reality. Revenues were in free-fall last week at many of the country's largest newspaper companies. "The only hope is that as we get through the spring, the rate of [the advertising] decline starts to ease up," says newspaper analyst Edward Atorino of The Benchmark Co.

"On Friday, Gannett Co. (nyse: GCI - news - people ) reported that third-quarter revenue fell 9% from the same quarter last year to $1.64 billion. Other companies fared no better: The New York Times Company (nyse: NYT - news - people ) said total revenues fell 8.9% in the third quarter year over year to $687 million. And McClatchy (nyse: MNI - news - people ) posted third-quarter revenues of $451.6 million, down 16.4% over the same quarter last year."

The conclusion is that there may be some dim hope for smaller papers or papers that go private. But in the meantime, expect more layoffs and cost-cutting, because the old business model no longer works.

But we all knew that, right?

Here is the link

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The Star's editorial weakness

Dateline: Mon 27 Oct 2008

Those few of us who still read the Star's editorial pages opened Sunday's section with curiosity: who would the paper endorse for President?

What a wimp-out. Citing hopeless divisions among the eight members of the editorial board, the paper chose to leave the decision to voters. We all know how this went down: the McCaiin camp included editorial page editor Tim Swarens, cartoonist Gary Varvel, columnist Russ Pulliam and very likely Jane Lichtenberg. That left publisher Michael Kane, exec editor Dennis Ryerson, op-ed columnist Dan Carpenter and Beth Murphy for Obama. In the past, Ryerson has made welcome changes on the editorial pages, offering more perspective (liberal points of view), sometimes, albeit, in heavy-handed fashion.

But Sunday he and the other big cheeses wimped out.

However, this was a non-issue I brought it up Sunday at the Obama HQ in Broad Ripple. In fact, out of a room of 8 or so people, no one, save me, had even read the Sunday paper.

As Guy said, "Nobody cares what the Star does anyhow." Of course, edorsing either Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama would have been gutty. But now we know why The Star is truly irrelevant.

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