Is the Star telling stories again?

Dateline: Tue 09 Sep 2008

Will Higgins' front-page story Monday on former Indiana Gov. Ed Whitcomb was, as we like to say, a good read.

It reminded some of us how much we miss the newspaper's story-telling skills; as former features writer Bill Shaw regularly demonstrated, there is nothing like a good yarn to hold reader interest.

In fact, Shaw had told Whitcomb's story back in the late 1990s, when he was a very prolific features writer. Not too much has changed for the onetime politician since then: he is still living in Rome in Perry County, and he is still invested in river life. However, as Higgins noted, he does have a girlfriend now.

Higgins has the sort of talent that should be utilized regularly for such a long, well-placed tale. He and Phil Richards are probably the paper's strongest writers now. So whomever dispatched Higgins down to Southern Indiana made a good call.

More of this, not less. Especially now that a favorite cartoon "For Better or Worse" is fini, we need stories.

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Sarah Palin equals Spiro Agnew

Dateline: Fri 05 Sep 2008

My Hillary friends are starting to speak out.

If anything, the selection of Sarah Palin as Pops' veep (to quote Christopher Buckley) is sending the Hillary women to Obama's side in a flash.

Here is what my buddy Annie said: "Sarah Palin reminds me of Spiro Agnew playing 'pit bull' and attacking the press. I guess if we live long enough everything comes around again."

Friend Barb in Charlotte said she found Palin's convention speech smug and sarcastic, and she wonders if "they have birth control in Alaska." She is now squarely for Obama.

The best analysis comes from the always thoughtful Ken Bode, whose column is in today's Star. I've watched Ken move from Hillary last year over to Obama. His take, if you have not yet read him, is that Palin is a big-time gamble for McCain. After explaining that McCain's pick has brought the McCain-doubting Christian evangelicals into the GOP fold, Bode makes his case:

"On the surface, Palin's political credentials are an appealing and unconventional mix: from union member to PTA volunteer to small-town mayor to reformist governor of a state whose politics are dominated by oil interests and awash in Republican Party corruption.

"What we're just finding out, and what we don't know about Palin, may take some gloss off that image. For example, she supported the infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere' before she opposed it, and contrary to McCain's posture on congressional earmarks, as mayor she hired Washington lobbyists to win $27 million in earmarks for Wasilla. Though McCain operatives won't own up to it, it's pretty clear that the vetting of Sarah Palin was hasty and incomplete. That's a mistake they may pay for later. Ask George McGovern."

Thanks to readers, including sauron21, who already had the goods on Spiro, I mean Sarah, Palin.

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Kelly Kendall -- a soft landing

Dateline: Fri 05 Sep 2008

Kelly Kendall, a features editor who was laid off in the Gannett purge at the Indianapolis Star, has landed on her feet. She has a new job at the Indianapolis Monthly magazine.

Kendall will be the associate special sections editor.

Kendall is multi-talented, with a law degree as well as a flair for writing and a lovely eye for design. She started at the Star as a copy messenger when she was still a student at Brebeuf Prep School. Even in that motley crew, she distinguished herself. "Mrs. Holladay," she said to me once, "I'd like to write stories for the features section. Would you be interested?"

As I recall, her first published piece was on ballroom dancing, which teens in Indy had rediscovered. She went on from there, after college and during law school, to cover fashion (her fashion column was highly regarded by readers), movies, pop culture, books etc. She got the axe simply because she had the talent to be editor material. Gannett wanted to rid itself of a few manager/editor positions not covered by the Guild union, and Kelly took the fall.

She will do well wherever she goes, and the Monthly is lucky to get the girl.

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Obama office in Greencastle

Dateline: Fri 05 Sep 2008

Indiana Obama communications director Jonathan Swain sent the following glad tidings Wednesday:

"Barack Obama's Campaign for Change will open a local office in Greencastle, further expanding m outreach and organizing efforts on behalf of Obama and other Democratic candidates across the Hoosier State. The Greencastle office will be fully staffed and have regular office hours starting next week."

This is office No. 31 in the state, says Swain. I can testify to things being in high gear; I've gotten two phone calls to volunteer in the past week or so, one from the Putnam County organizers and another from Washington Township in Indy.

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College students to save newspapers?

Dateline: Thu 04 Sep 2008

A friend just sent this:

"College Students to Save the News?


"Ohio schools Miami University and Earlham College announced they will

partake in a joint venture with local media to establish a regional

news service for parts of Ohio and Indiana.

"Journalism school students will report, write and produce stories

that can then be used by media outlets in print or on their Web

sites. The University of Maryland's Interactive Journalism program is

funding the entire operation for $17,000.

"Now if we could only get Harvard University and the rest of the Ivies

to buy The New York Times."

I say: let the kids get Barack Obama elected first. Then they can turn their youthful energies to journalism.

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