The other day I lamented on Twitter that the Indy Star, the state’s largest newspaper, had dozens of stories on their homepage, and all of them were editorial or opinion pieces. There was no news.
There are no local news sources that appeal to me. Nuvo strikes me as a paper for hipsters looking to drink beer and find a boring show to watch (literally, at the time of this writing the homepage is a big bro-bear in horns hugging a glass of beer). Every news station strikes me as nothing but “crime and grime” and traffic deaths, journalism parlance for gruesome murder stories and awful crimes that grab attention. Or it’s just Buzzfeed-style clickbait. The Star is increasingly just cheap editorials sandwiched between pieces I can’t help but think are biased.
Matt Tully has so been swift and adamant that this city will face certain death if we don’t get more preschool funding, despite plenty of research to the contrary. Made me wonder why, until I realized his daughter might skew his viewpoint (which is fair, but it’s a factor), and some possibly-wrong-and-ill-informed rumblings that his wife is involved with a large preschool here in town.
Erika Smith is liberal in her views, and Gary Varvel so conservative in his you almost feel surprised when either of them says something that sounds like actual reporting. In the case of Erika, if we’re not talking about the plight of poor people and transit, we’re probably not talking. And for Gary, if we’re not talking about how horrifying Obama is, we’re probably not talking.
It sounds harsh, and I don’t like criticizing people so succinctly, but our local news reporters have as much responsibility in protecting and serving the public as the police do.
We have some immensely talented individuals working in Indiana journalism. Nikki Kelly at the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette is a trusted source whom I actively seek out for reporting on big events. The now-retired Mary Beth Schneider from the Star also comes to mind. Matt Tully can write really well, too.
I have a project in my to-do list app called “Hoosier.ly”, a sort of working title and domain name that (for now) could be registered and made into that sort of long-form, captivating, well-written, journalism.
It doesn’t even have to be the sort of expensive hard-hitting journalism that takes months to do. I think by and large most of the time things are pretty quiet in the halls of the State House and city halls. But even just displaying some sense for interesting stories, like how a kid at John Marshall struggles to compete in a spelling bee can bring a world of insight to people who never get it.
Even our local NPR affiliate is pretty tame on news. I don’t recall a time when WFYI ever had a big scoop or story. The local news reporting strikes me as press-release gathering and some reliance on other local news gathering partners.
But I’m not smart enough to fix this problem. I don’t have the time, money, or resources to devote to building something to fix this problem. And for a lot of people, there is no problem. There must be a shocking number of people who care about the Star’s Falcon cam, or how big some Carmel/Fishers/Geist/Greenwood house is, or how long Andrew Luck’s neckbeard was. They must really like those “entertainment” pieces, and the market has spoken.
Not to mention the actual market dynamics of making money in this industry.
When I think about what I’d like to read, there are three components. A great online site, a weekly 1-hour podcast, and a really well-designed printed magazine-style piece that comes out monthly.
Maybe Indiana just doesn’t have that much news. Indianapolis Monthly is well-designed, but I don’t care about what wealthy Carmelites are doing to their homes, or what over-priced food I can’t afford to eat looks like, or whatever the hell a Swoon List is.
The Indianapolis Business Journal is generally very good and routinely delivers on details I can’t ever find anyplace else, but they sit comfortably in their niche of business news. There’s more to us than just mergers and land sales, right?
So I share this so if you or someone you know is considering or doing something that’s truly new and journalistic for educated, independent-minded, non-partisan people, get in touch. I want to help, or at least be a reader.
It’s not just me, right?