The Hoosier State Press Association supports the Pence Administration’s move to end development of its Just IN news site.
According to administration internal memos describing Just IN, it would “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.” Whether intended or not, this implies a state effort to develop its own news audience, a position that would go beyond supplying press releases and would be unacceptable.
Pence Communications Director Christy Denault called HSPA Executive Director and General Counsel Steve Key the day before the story broke in The Indianapolis Star. She shared information about an intent to revamp a calendar website to improve its usability and reach.
As Key told Star reporter Tom LoBianco, that goal isn’t a bad thing. Key cautioned that the journalistic community would need to watch for signs that the state would try to control access to information. For example, limiting access to state officials with references that the information could be found on Just IN.
Key told LoBianco that whether the Pence Administration referred to Just IN content as stories, news or press releases, he was confident that Indiana editors and reporters would recognize any posting from Just IN as a press release and treat it accordingly.
It appears Gov. Pence understands this as he announced the demise of Just IN today.