Virtual event to address importance of local journalism


Indiana Humanities presents Sept. 22 Zoom discussions with facilitators from around the state

Ruth Witmer
Hoosier State Press Association

In September, participants from across the state will have an opportunity to gather virtually and chat over dinner about a vital topic: “Why Does Local Reporting Matter?”

The Zoom event will take place 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22. It is presented by Indiana Humanities in partnership with the Hoosier State Press Association.

This discussion is part of Indiana Humanities Chew on This series. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Chew on This talks would take place in restaurants where participants would gather for dinner and a discussion on a particular topic moderated by facilitators. Out of concern for gathering during a pandemic, these talks have moved to a Zoom format and participants will be having dinner in their own homes.

“Given this virtual format, we’re going to be still at quote-unquote tables with facilitators, but you might be having a conversation with someone from across the state,” said Claire Mauschbaugh, Indiana Humanities events and communications associate.

Mauschbaugh said Indiana Humanities wants to re-create the experience of sitting down for a meal and a talk as much possible. They plan to send out a recipe that participants can make themselves for that evening, she said.

“You’ll be dining with Hoosiers and having a good conversation about the journalism in your community and their community,” Mauschbaugh said.

Every virtual table will also have a Tweeter who will share what’s being discussed with other tables at the hashtag #chewonthis.

“Newspapers have historically been so much a focus of attention for engagement, community togetherness and community identity.”

Max Jones, editor, Tribune-Star, Terre Haute

The cost is $10 per ticket and Mauschbaugh said it will last about an hour and a half. Tickets can be purchased online at

Ten discussion Zoom rooms will have twenty participants and two facilitators each.

Max Jones, editor of the Tribune-Star in Terre Haute will serve as one of the talk facilitators.

“Anymore, this is one of my favorite and most frustrating topics,” Jones said of the event’s subject matter, why local news matters.

“What we have learned in recent years is that local news continues to be undervalued in the communities they serve.”

Jones said he sees this as an opportunity to not only lead a discussion but to listen.

“I’d like to know why some people continue to not place as high a value on it as perhaps they should and if there’s something we can do to make it even more valuable or convince them that’s it’s worth paying for,” he said.

This will be an chance to explore the role local news plays in shaping communities and building an informed citizenry, Jones said. “Newspapers have historically been so much a focus of attention for engagement, community togetherness and community identity.”

Chew on This is part of Indiana Humanities’ INseparable project which explores how Hoosiers are connected and disconnected through urban and rural lines. The programming is made possible by funding from The Mellon Foundation through its Democracy and the Informed Citizen Initiative.

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, made possible thanks to the generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in partnership with the Pulitzer Prizes.

“We’ll leave tickets open until the day of the event as long as tickets are available,” Mauschbaugh said. “But we generally sell this out.”

“I’m anxious to see how this all works out,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a fascinating experience.”

Facilitators for the “Why Does Local Reporting Matter?” event are:

Group 1: Kaitlin Lange, The Indianapolis Star, and Ryan Martin, The Indianapolis Star

Group 2: Adam Wren, Importantville/Politico/Indianapolis Monthly, and Ebony Chappel, Open Lines and What’s Good with Ebony Chappel  (Indianapolis)

Group 3: Terry Anker, Current in Carmel, and Nate Feltman, Indianapolis Business Journal

Group 4: Don Hurd, Hoosier Media Group, and Ray Cooney, The Commercial Review (Portland)

Group 5: Richarh Tyson, Channel 27 (Marion), and Jeff Kovaleski, Kokomo Tribune

Group 6: Scott Agness, Fieldhouse Files (Indianapolis), and James Boyd, The Times of Northwest Indiana

Group 7: Michael Puente, WBEZ Chicago/Northwest Indiana and Indiana Pro SPJ President, and Michael Wanbaugh, South Bend Tribune

Group 8: Scott Underwood, The Herald Bulletin (Anderson), and Katrice Hardy, The Indianapolis Star

Group 9: Kathy Tretter, The Ferdinand News and Spencer County Leader, and Max Jones, Tribune-Star (Terre Haute)

Group 10: Daniel Grossman, NUVO (Indianapolis), and Oseye Boyd, The Indianapolis Recorder and editor of Indiana Minority Business Magazine

For more information about this Indiana Humanities Chew on This program, visit