Indiana’s “Limited Government” Governor To Start State-Run News Agency

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is supposed to be a champion of limited government. So why is he starting up a state run news agency?

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a supposed small-government conservative who is reportedly thinking about running for President, wants to create a state-run news agency to compete with the private media:

Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run news service that will provide pre-written news stories to Indiana news outlets, as well as sometimes compete with them for news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

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 to communications directors for state agencies last week details.

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.”

A Pence spokeswoman declined comment Monday, saying the administration would release more details soon.

The news agency is being overseen by a governance board, made of communications directors, and an editorial board made of McCleery and the governor’s communications staff.

Given the fact that state agencies, including the Governor’s office, already have press secretaries and communications directors  that send out press releases on a regular basis, it’s unclear exactly why something like this would even be necessary.  This would seem to be especially true given the fact that the vast majority of the press releases that the average government office or agency really aren’t newsworthy to begin with. Many of them merely announce various personnel shifts, or other internal matters that, quite honestly, barely qualify as news to begin with. In addition to press releases, communications directors employed by politicians routinely call political reporters trying to pitch stories. Sometimes their pitches result in a published pieced, sometimes they don’t. The point is that there are already any number of means by which politicians can communicate with the media, so it’s unclear exactly why something like this is necessary. Indeed, many of Indiana’s newspapers are wondering the same thing:

One target audience for the governor’s stories would be small outlets like The Commercial Review in Portland, which has only a few staffers.

“I think it’s a ludicrous idea,” said Jack Ronald, publisher of the Portland Commercial Review. “I have no problem with public information services — the Purdue University agriculture extension service does a great job. But the notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press.”

Ronald won a Fulbright scholarship in 1998 to train journalists in the former Soviet state of Moldova about how to build an independent press, after decades of relying on state-run media under the USSR. From there he worked with journalist in Afghanistan, Belarus, Russia and many other former Soviet states. In 2009 he was deported from Uzbekistan, after being placed on a blacklist following training in Belarus.

In addition to the point that Ronald raises, one has to wonder how Pence squares this with his limited government principles. After all, since all of the government agencies that are involved in this project already have their own press secretaries and communications directors, and already issue numerous press releases on a daily basis, what’s the point in having another agency that does the same thing and more? How exactly is this a proper function of government? A cynical person would point out that this announcement coincides with reports that Pence is considering a run for the Republican nomination for President and that a centralized agency that does nothing but send out pro-Administration press releases and “features” for the press to read and, if Mr. Ronald’s reaction is any indication, largely ignore. That doesn’t sound very fiscally conservative to me.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KM says:

    That doesn’t sound very fiscally conservative to me.

    Truthiness has no price, Doug. After all, it’s not like it’s his personal money so why would he care? He has to tell the People about how very concerned he is with saving them money and not growing the government! How else will he get elected again if they don’t know what he’s doing? Since those nasty mainstream libber newspeople won’t say what he wants when he wants, he’ll just employ some people (job growth!!) and get the real news out – and since it’s from him (gasp, the Governor!!), it must be accurate and true!

    … Ok, I’m out of sarcasm but this one really made me laugh. Way to live those principles, Pence!!

  2. anjin-san says:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    Republicans are not fiscal conservatives.

    #####

  3. Mu says:

    @anjin-san:
    Now if you just had your own news agency to proliferate that message

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This was inevitable in a world where even FOX News is anti-Christian.

    Oh and Doug? Using Gov’t money to help kick off your presidential campaign is nothing new. Christie did it just a little while ago by holding a special election for the vacant NJ Senate seat just 3 weeks before his own upcoming election so he wouldn’t have a popular Dem on the ballot at the same time as him. Wouldn’t want a bunch of Dem voters showing up at the polls for the wrong election, now would he?

  5. Slugger says:

    Believing that Republicans are the “limited government party” is like belief in Santa Claus, charming in children, troubling when adults do it. The party that wants to regulate marriage, low impact drugs, and everybody’s uterus is not for limited government. They have two wings, the Christian Taliban and the Corporate/Crony State.

  6. stonetools says:

    The conservatives already have Fox and talk radio pumping out RW propaganda 24/7/365, plus the Koch Brothers spending hundreds of millions to get out the message? that’s not enough? Oh well, it must be getting tough to maintain that media bubble in which right wingers live. Its almost as if reality eventually breaks through, even when communicated by a mediocre MSM and dysfunctional Democratic messaging machine.
    In other reality based news that Doug will never comment on ( because it conflicts with HIS ideology), Indiana has become the latest state to accept Medicaid expansion.

    Indiana has received federal approval to expand Medicaid to cover 350,000 uninsured residents through a state-run program that supporters say increases participant responsibility.

    Gov. Mike Pence announced Tuesday that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services had approved the state’s request for the plan his administration calls HIP 2.0.

    The plan builds off the Healthy Indiana Plan that began under former Gov. Mitch Daniels. The initial program currently enrolls some 60,000 low-income Indiana residents.

    Consumers enrolled in HIP 2.0 will make optional contributions and have a hybrid health savings account.

    Pence in July submitted his HIP 2.0 proposal to federal officials as an alternative to a traditional expansion of Medicaid.

    The costs will be covered with revenue from Indiana’s cigarette tax, hospital fees and federal Medicaid funding.

    Why, it’s almost as If Pence and the Republicans have recognized that Obamacare is working as well or better than advertised despite massive resistance(yes, historical analogy intended) by the Republicans. No wonder Pence needs his own Pravda to spin this as some sort of victory for conservative policy rather than as a long overdue concession to the logic of the ACA.
    I wonder too, when the OP is going to concede that the ACA is a sensible and far sighted program that will be ultimately successful if allowed to work as intended. I suspect never as it contradicts liberation mythology, which has never conceded that government social insurance programs are desirable and necessary, even as libertarians benefit from them. ( See Ryan, Paul, and Rand, Ayn).

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Slugger: I usually refer to their two right wings as the ignorance wing and the greed wing. The only two things their party stands for.

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    This is why I’m always confused as to why people tout Pence. He’s an idealogue who is both myopic, and worse, not too bright. He barely won election–the State Superintendent of Education of education received more votes–and has rapidly lost support of state conservatives.

    After his State of the State, conservatives were questioning why he had seemingly no proposals our new initiatives, some viciously vocally so.

    Two weeks later and he answers their criticism with the Pence Pravda.

    Btw, he didn’t tie down the twitter handle, and whomever grabbed @Just_IN_News is skiing a bang up job.

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    In addition to the point that Ronald raises, one has to wonder how Pence squares this with his limited government principles.

    This is a joke, right? Principles? What principles?

    Mike Pence doesn’t have “limited government principles.” He has a limited government grift, which he’ll deploy when it serves as cover for his ultimate goal of more power for himself and more money for the rich.

  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    “Doing” not “skiing.” Ducking autocorrect.

  11. al-Ameda says:

    Indiana Pravda – it has a certain je ne sais quoi to it, no?

  12. Pinky says:

    It’s very hard to tell what this thing is, or is intended to be. If it’s nothing more than a two-man operation that acts as a clearinghouse for state publications, that’s not too much to get upset about. It could be worse than that, but at this point, who knows?

  13. Buffalo Rude says:

    “Limited government. . .” Haha.

  14. Scott says:

    Much as I think Pence is full of it (and by reputation, not too bright) there doesn’t seem to be much more to this than a glorified Public Affairs Office. Possible duplication of effort or maybe consolidation of effort along with a minor innovation of sticking this stuff up on a website.

    Seems pretty half baked.

  15. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Pinky:

    Pence’s office is now comparing it to Illinois’s information clearinghouse. If it does end up being that, then I agree it’s not much to get upset about.

    However that’s now how Pence’s office originally described it:

    “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 to communications directors for state agencies last week details.
    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.”

    That sounds much more like a media destination.

  16. Pinky says:

    What does it say about your operation when you can’t even manage a press statement announcing your new press outlet?

  17. Electroman says:

    the Purdue University agriculture extension service does a great job

    Indeed. Go Boilers!

  18. ernieyeball says:

    …that, quite honestly, barely qualify as news to begin with.

    Here’s some news.
    They are the Purdue Boilermakers!
    (My grandpa was a boilermaker for the Chicago and Eastern Illinois RR. He never went to college.)

  19. Facebones says:

    …one has to wonder how Pence squares this with his limited government principles…

    The only limited government most conservatives believe in is lower taxes. In everything else, they’re statist interventionists.

  20. C. Clavin says:

    Even back 18 years ago, when I was a part of the media, I thought there should be something like the Bar Exam for journalists.
    But then, if facts mattered Fox News would not exist.
    The reality of a small-government Republican advocating for big Government should not be surprising. The record of Republican hypocrisy on the size of Government is long. It’s not just 3rd tier Presidential candidates.

  21. Tyrell says:

    “State run news agency”: isn’t that what propaganda ministet Joseph Goebbels ran in Nazi Germany ?

  22. Andre Kenji says:

    I don´t know. If that´s an independent News Outlet then it´s not a bad idea. I like the idea of Public Broadcasting.

  23. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Public Broadcasting in America is semi-public funded, but independently ran. This would be ran by the government itself.

    As to Public Broadcasting, http://indianapublicmedia.org/

    It would be re-inventing the wheel.

  24. Barry says:

    Doug: “In addition to the point that Ronald raises, one has to wonder how Pence squares this with his limited government principles. ”

    Has he ever stuck to those principles when spending money would help him, or his cronies?

  25. Crusty says:

    @Andre Kenji: What’s wrong is that it is the government telling you what to think. It is too easily abused.