From the “you can’t make this shit up” files, Gov. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) is starting a state-run news service. You heard that right, I’m not making this up – Gov. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) is starting a state-run news service. For all of the crazy news stories I see on a daily basis, including all of the wacky stuff some of my more gullible friends share, this one actually made my jaw drop. In fact, I had to go back and read this a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t fallen asleep on my desk and was having weird dreams about politics.
Yes, for all of their complaining about big government and media propaganda, a Republican governor is doing exactly that – creating a state-run, taxpayer-funded media outlet which will report news stories. Now if you think this sounds vaguely like the former Soviet Union, you’d be right. I doubt you’ll be hearing any protests and screaming about communism, fascism, or socialism, or even media bias from the Republicans on this one since it’s their guy.
Pence is planning to launch “Just IN” in late February, a website and news service that will feature stories written by state press secretaries and is being overseen by a former Indianapolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.
“At times, Just IN will break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion,” according to a question-and-answer sheet distributed last week to communications directors for state agencies.
The Pence news service will take stories written by state communications directors and publish them on its website. Stories will “range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles.” (Source)
It’s also worth pointing out that Gov. Mike Pence is up for reelection in 2016, and he’s also been rumored to be considering a run for the White House. With the Republican field already crowded with the grifters and people campaigning for a Fox News contributor position, he’d already have a leg up on much of the field. Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that he already has $3.5 million in his campaign chest for whatever his next political endeavor should be.
I know a lot of conservatives will quickly point out that PBS and NPR are publicly funded news organizations, and they would be right – kind of. However, while they are publicly-funded, the money is distributed through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which adds layers of separation between politicians and producers versus “Just IN” which would be a direct communications arm of the State of Indiana. It would basically be a state-approved news wire version of the Associated Press, and that’s potentially a real problem.
The Just IN documents show that the new outlet plans to pitch stories to both reporters and directly to the public.
“We expect reporters to find the site useful, and some features are designed specifically for media professionals. Just IN, however, will function as a news outlet in its own right for thousands of Hoosiers — transparent in functioning as a voice of the State of Indiana’s executive branch,” according to one document. (Source)
What’s the problem? You see, a lot of media organizations these days often lack the funding or the interest of the public to make sending out reporters to investigate stories worthwhile. This is especially true if those stories require them to send someone more than an hour away from the local TV station’s office, so they rely on news through affiliates through NBC, CBS, FOX, etc. This is why you see your local TV station in Louisiana share a news item about something that happened in Wisconsin with the statement “from our sister station in Green Bay,” and then the story is an exact copy of the one from Green Bay.
Now imagine you’re running for president and many, if not most, of the news outlets in Indiana are getting their stories from “Just IN” which would likely speak well of Mike Pence. Now imagine you have a state-funded
propaganda machine news outlet to report on your work as governor and to spread these stories nationwide through news affiliates – because that’s exactly what Mike Pence is going to have.
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