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This afternoon Governor Mike Pence axed his plans for a state-run news service. Pence became the subject of controversy earlier this week when the Indianapolis Star reported on his plans to establish a government run news service called Just IN. Just IN was supposed to launch this February.
In a news release today, Pence said he would not approve of any state-run media and that the proposal, authored by his communications staff, was not what he expected. The project has since been completely shut down. Instead, Pence said, the current public calendar website will be updated and adapted.
Documents of the proposal show the Just IN site would have featured breaking news stories and have been overseen by a Government-paid managing editor. Just IN was intended both for a general audience and media.
Much of the backlash against the plan came from journalists who found the idea of a state-run news agency unethical. Matthew Tully, a writer for the IndyStar, argued against Just IN, citing the American tradition of an independent press as well as the fact the agency would be funded by taxpayers.
IU Journalism Professor Gerry Lanosga has blogged and tweeted about the Just IN controversy. And to Lanosga, the outrage was unwarranted.
He says that he does not see it as an ethical issue for the government, but could possibly be an ethical issue for the journalists involved.
Over the past couple days, many critics suggested the Just In service would spin stories to benefit the Pence administration. But Lanosga argues the focus should be on how the press gets its information in the first place.
He states that we need to think about how reliant the press is right now on government information. He also states that it is a big concern that a large portion of the press’ information come directly from government sources.
The documents that allowed the IndyStar reporter to break the story on Just IN came from a government source. Mike Pence is in his first term as the 50th governor of Indiana and has served since 2013. There is wide speculation Pence is considering a run for president in 2016. So far he has not made those plans public.