What We Learn When Journalists Do Their Jobs

In my recent blog about the termination of the PR contract intended to repair the considerable damage to Indiana’s reputation inflicted by the RFRA debacle, I questioned Governor Pence’s assertion that Indiana was creating lots of jobs so the contract was no longer necessary.

I also noted that there has been considerable criticism of the way in which the state’s economic development agency reports job creation numbers. (In all fairness to Governor Pence, those concerns precede the current administration.)

I knew there had been allegations that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation routinely  and intentionally “cooked the books,” but I was unaware of the considerable evidence supporting those allegations until a regular reader sent me a link to a story done last year by WTHR.

The extensive report is pretty devastating. Among WTHR’s findings:

  • IEDC’s new transparency website is missing basic disclosure information that other states release to taxpayers.
  • The state agency is not releasing any information about hundreds of projects it previously announced.
  • IEDC is reporting official job statistics that exclude all failed economic development projects from its calculations.
  • Both IEDC and the governor are citing the state’s new job transparency law as justification to withhold information from public disclosure.

I encourage readers to click through and read the entire report. It documents misdirection and “gaming the system” by the Administration in great detail–and it should make taxpayers pretty angry.

It certainly made me angry, for two reasons: first, because our elected officials are playing fast and loose with the truth; and second, because this sort of investigative reporting about local government is all too rare.

The whole purpose of freedom of the press was to provide this sort of “watchdog” function–to allow the press to act on behalf of citizens who lack the time and expertise to keep tabs on those we’ve charged with managing our governing institutions. Kudos to WTHR–but where is the rest of the local media?

We get lots of coverage –indeed, I’d suggest overkill–of things like the Richmond Hill trial, the (thus far speculative) investigation of Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, and the most recent bar openings, but little or no oversight of the state and municipal government agencies that spend our tax dollars and regulate our behaviors. Figuring out what’s going on is admittedly more work than telling us about the opening of the latest restaurant–but it’s also a whole lot more important.

When I see a well-researched story like this one, it reminds me why journalism is so important–and makes me sad that we have so little of it.

36 thoughts on “What We Learn When Journalists Do Their Jobs

  1. WOW !!! I read the entire WTHR story from the link you provided. This administration and the legislature just keeps getting more disgusting by the day.

    Eric Doden managed to hide enough real info to get the CEO job of Greater Fort Wayne. I will assume that he will be cooking the books there too.

  2. Nancy, what IEDC was disclosing under Daniels was actually far less. It’s an improvement under Pence. Still not good enough though. I’d prefer to get rid of IEDC altogether though.

  3. Powerful article. It grows in gravity the farther into it one reads. Thanks for sharing it Sheila.

  4. From the article – For the past year, Nationstar had been shifting much of its foreclosure work overseas to employees in India. My daughter lost her job to India also. She worked for one the Wall Street Mega Banks. This particular Bank kept sending me offers to use their Credit Card at least once a month. Finally, I accumulated about 6 months of offers, and mailed them back to them in the their pre-paid envelope. I wrote on their applications in Red Ink -Send your offers to India where you sent my daughters job.

    IDEC and some of these Economic Quasi Government entities appear to exist as a money laundering operation to get subsidies or tax breaks into the hands of the Crony-Capitalists.

    The Press both National and here Indianapolis ignore the corruption that is rampant at all levels of government. Patmcc, had a correct observation SPORTS, SPORTS, SPORTS. The Star has as it’s sole purpose to defend Crony-Capitalism or ignore it. SPORTS, SPORTS, SPORTS and the opening of another Bar are high priorities for The Star.

  5. One of the problems is that the world is transitioning away from obsolete delivery and distribution, in many ways an improvement. The Internet gives excellent access to international and national news but local papers are having a hard time figuring out what their purpose is in the new world. Plus the Internet requires researching skills way beyond the capability of most to pry apart fact and opinion.

    I find local reporting done pretty well on TV but little investigative journalism.

    It is also not clear to me that there is a way to fund local investigative reporting. Most people really want opinion that supports theirs rather than facts.

  6. Witness the spread today on pg 1A, debate on Morman Tabernacle. There is no debate, just a protest. Front page news? Don’t think so. Waste of ink. Smacks of yellow journalism. One sect attacking another. T. Paine- no mystery, no miracles, no revelation.

  7. “In my recent blog about the termination of the PR contract intended to repair the considerable damage to Indiana’s reputation inflicted by the RFRA debacle”

    There was no “damage.”

    There was no “debacle.”

    Freedom is great, and religious freedom is enshrined in the
    Constitution. Every decent person applauds Indiana for protecting the bedrock liberties upon which this country was founded.

  8. Gopper. I would have assumed that someone would have told you by now that the Constitution is not about you. It’s about government. They are not allowed to legislate for or against any particular religion or any religion in general.

    For some reason you seem to think that you have a right to impose your religion on others despite that prohibition against the marriage of church and state.

    You’ll just have to figure out how to in ways other than legally.

    Try selling people that God told you that not following your religion would have eternal hellfire and damnation consequences.

  9. Gopper, I am a “decent person” and I denounce Pence’s attempt to bring his religion to bear upon the rights and liberties of Indiana’s citizens.

  10. Here’s a little insight into an advantage WTHR has over other TV stations in town — private ownership. Unless something has changed recently, I believe WTHR is the only major media outlet that is not owned by a publically traded corporation. IMO, this has a huge impact on their business decisions. These owners do not have to worry about pleasing Wall Street. If they decide to invest a lot of money in investigative reporting or luring an anchor away from a competing station, they can do it and not worry if they don’t meet investor expectations. They just have to meet their own. So if you look at the media business, the sad state of investigative reporting is due to more than just a lack of money. Wall Street looks at numbers and only cares about product quality if it has an immediate impact on the numbers.

  11. “For some reason you seem to think that you have a right to impose your religion on others”

    Pete, a religion is a belief system. You have no right to impose your belief system on me, nor I on you.

    Whether the belief system is anchored in the divine or the secular is irrelevant. I am to be as safe from your leftist belief system as I am from another’s Christian belief system.

  12. Bruce said:

    “Gopper, I am a “decent person” and I denounce Pence’s attempt to bring his religion to bear upon the rights and liberties of Indiana’s citizens.”

    Religions are just belief systems, Bruce. Christianity, Socialism, Objectivism, etc., are all just belief systems. If you have the right to be free from one, you have the right to be free from all.

    Establishing the correct ontology, Gopper says:

    “Bruce, I am a “decent person” and I denounce Sheila’s attempt to bring her belief system to bear upon the rights and liberties of Indiana’s citizens.”

  13. “I would have assumed that someone would have told you by now that the Constitution is not about you.”

    Civics lesson, Pete. The Constitution isn’t. The Bill of Rights is. A good portion of the Declaration of Independence is.

    We got the Bill of Rights because the Founding Fathers didn’t see enough in the Constitution to protect me.

  14. Gopper is right! Because he says so! And because he repeats it constantly! There you have it.

    I’m still sorry for you, Gopper, that you see the world as you do. You seem closed to the possibility that you might be wrong about anything. Must be a terribly heavy burden to be constantly right.

  15. Gopper, just so you know, as soon as I see your name on a post, I skip it. Most of your posts have nothing of value to contribute to the conversation.

  16. Gopper, Gopper, Gopper. Here’s the text of the First Ammendment as an example.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[1]”

    Nothing about you. Only Congress.

    The Declaration of Independence is a letter to King George and to other countries of the world then. Very profound document answering the question why the Revolution. However it has no standing in American Law other than as insight into the thinking of the Continental Congress vis a vis why they had a right to succeed from English rule.

    It also says nothing about you.

  17. “I am to be as safe from your leftist belief system as I am from another’s Christian belief system.”

    Where to start. Politics is not religion and religion can’t be politics except in Theocracies like the Middle East’s.

    Your belief system is safe from me. I don’t care because I am an American and the imposition of your beliefs on me is a private matter between you and me that can have no force of law behind it. That’s why I suggested hellfire and eternal damnation as the only option that you have to impose it. And I don’t accept hellfire and eternal damnation so save your breath.

    As for leftist. The country is 1/3 socialist today and that’s working fine. The 2/3 Capitalist works fine when competition is enforced by regulation and customers are well informed as Thomas Paine suggested.

    Our biggest Capitalist disasters at the moment are health care, because effective competition is nonexistent and customers aren’t informed, and fossil fuels because their total costs are not being paid by their customers, another artifact of misinformed customers.

    We also are under regulating many other markets like political advertising.

    If your belief system encompassed Capitalism you’d agree. If it encompassed freedom you’d understand better what it is.

  18. “Politics is not religion and religion can’t be politics ”

    You missed the lesson, Pete.

    Political ideologies are belief systems, and religions are belief systems, though the latter is given foundational protection in this particular government.

    If you have the right to be free of the requirements of any belief system, you have the right to be free from the requirements of all belief systems. No person gets to force his belief system on anyone else.

  19. “No person gets to force his belief system on anyone else.”

    We agree. This is called freedom. I may be reminding you of that occasionally. To close the loop it’s why RFRA is such a bad idea.

    My political ideology for instance encompasses freedom and Capitalism. There are those whose political ideologies don’t accept Capitalism’s requirement of competition as essential for its function.

  20. “My political ideology for instance encompasses freedom and Capitalism.”

    Believe in whatever mythology you want; just don’t force it on me.

  21. I believe that the concepts of freedom and Capitalism are far from myth. Nothing abstract. Clear, specific, measurable.

    Unfortunately conservatism and libertarianism claim allegiance to what, apparently, they don’t understand. Just as they don’t understand climate change and health care and diplomacy and economics, to name a few things.

    I think that they tend to be gullible and lazy learners looking for easy self serving ideas.

  22. I remember why I don’t always read the comments. Lol. Journalism? What that? The governor and his – what’s the word?- minion – disciple? Something – think as long as the congregation keeps its seat they’re ok.

    Pity the day the congregation decides it’s time for a new preacher.

    But to another if the governators nonsense expenditures we can tack on the crap about tissue and research.

    A menu of tissues from medical sources. How interesting. You do know that’s how medicine works? Research and science? Oh. I see. Because it’s from a source you don’t approve of its monstrous. But your own family has benefitted from tissue research. Now why would that matter? It doesn’t except the hypocrisy. Your autonomy is sacrosanct. Anyone else’s is sin.

  23. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[1]”

    Pete; that 1st Amendment covers a lot of territory, in my way of thinking freedom of speech and freedom of the press are combined leading to and allowing the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Sheila’s comment regarding the WTHR report, “…this sort of investigative reporting about local government is all too rare.” can easily be explained locally regarding our one daily newspaper, the Indianapolis Star. It was, along with the now defunct Indianapolis News, privately owned by Eugene Pullium prior to becomming one of Gannett Comany publications.

    Per Wikipedia; “Gannet Company, Inc. is a publicly traded media holding company headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia, near McLean in Greater Washington, D.C.” Included in the list of Gannett owned publications, “…Other significant newspapers incude the Indianapolis Star, Cincinnati Inquirer, The Tennessean in Nashville, Tennessee, The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York, the Detroit Free Press and the News Press in Fort Myers.”

    Wikipedia considers the Indianapolis Star to be a significant newspaper, wonder if they have read an issue in the past two decades? With the above list of newspapers and their locations, I hold out little hope that we will be receiving information via the Star/Gannett locally to aid us to “…petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” True journalism is gasping it’s dying breath nation-wide and is no more in evidence than here in the city of Indianapolis. Stephanie Wang, during the RFRA and “fix” fiasco, plus Ballard riding to the rescue of Indianapolis area LGBTs, wrote the truth of the situation. That was “investigave reporting about local government”; the first and last true journalism I have seen locally in longer than I care to remember.

  24. I don’t know of any model for journalism that isn’t based on business. Make more money regardless of the cost to others. When we were young there were clearly designated professions whereby making money was secondary to the greater good. Conservative led, advertising fueled materialism has ended that. There really are very few true professions and professionals left.

  25. “Nothing abstract. Clear, specific, measurable. ”

    Banning abortion and not making gay wedding cakes are clear, specific and measurable, but you categorically deny these beliefs from becoming law or being heard in governmental chambers as they are the products of a belief system. You don’t want belief systems becoming law, but your individual arrangement of ideologies is a belief system that you eagerly want to be law.

    Staggering hypocrisy.

  26. It’s a bummer to want so to impose your religion on others and in America, for one place, you are deprived of the use of the law to do so. Frustrated by freedom. Makes you wish for theocracy doesn’t it?

  27. I’ll grant the battle of belief systems but not accept second class as an individual status to do it. That’s what politics is for. Peacefully settling conflicting claims of rights and justice in the continuing search for co-existence.
    For too damn long we’ve coddled the fundamentalist religious sensibilities of the minority within a greater majority of religious people. Seen as the cheapest way to placate the noisiest squawkers of – we are chosen people belligerents- we’ve tolerated it.

    We’ve also seen a large movement away from such rigidity among diverse, educated and coastal or border peoples. It seems the more of these exposures you have the the more capable of granting -live and let live – into your life. With some caveats of course.

    The major hypocrisies lie within the -you don’t deserve equality under law due to your sexual lifestyle, your race, your gender, your agnosticism or your poverty crowd. We could add class distinctions but so many now are relegated to a lesser financial class than they ever expected it’s becoming a distinction across ideological lines.

    Since history shows us repeatedly the relative dominance of those categories changes over time I note the idiocy of thinking it’s a permanent condition or solution to political or policy battles but yet some cling tightly to the notion that they must impose their judgements of worthiness like poison upon all others. While on the conservative side of this nonsense there is a point to the inequity of some tax law on the more liberal side the idea that we are more than economic cogs or subservient to an authoritarian theology is seeking and promoting a more democratic, equitability.

    I’ll go with the latter.

  28. Gopper, by your ridiculously overbroad definitions, Democracy, Republicanism, Capitalism, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence– not to mention every single federal, state, and local statute– are all “beliefs”.
    In fact, literally everything can in some way be construed as a belief. I’d say it’s time for anarchy, but that’s a belief system too.
    One thing you seem not to understand (or at least give a crap about), Gopper, is that it’s possible to use a whole lot of blustery words but still say absolutely nothing.
    If the good citizens of Kennedy-Blogville aren’t willing to ignore you into oblivion, I guess I’m going to have to use logic to pummel you there.

  29. “It’s a bummer to want so to impose your religion on others”

    How do you know the extent, if any, to which I am religious? I’ve never here grounded any belief in religion. I noted your virulent objection to having belief systems imposed on you and emboldened your own argument.

    Every conservative or liberal belief has some church, somewhere, that espouses it. Every religious belief, apart from the devotional acts, has a secular analog.

    You want to be free from having belief systems imposed on you. I cannot agree more.

Comments are closed.