New executive director set to shepherd HSPA into future

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I had an interesting conversation with an artist over the weekend. He constructed multimedia portraits of antiquated jobs—there was a newspaper boy on his wall.

“Yeah, they’d put anything in there to sell papers back then,” he said.

“Some people don’t think it’s much different now,” another patron chimed in.

The artist certainly didn’t know that I was the newly installed executive director of the association representing Indiana’s newspapers, but he got me thinking. We spend a lot of time talking about the lofty duty assigned to the fourth estate by the Founding Father’s at the inception of our government. But there’s a long tradition that fills the years between the 18th century and today.

Yes, some of that is muck-raking, yellow journalism that in light of our current media crisis seems like a blemish on our profession. But every part of our history serves a purpose to inform our path forward.

The age of headlines shouting about corn-men on Mars does more than just make us chuckle—it shows us two important things about journalism that are particularly relevant today.

First, there have always been many kinds of media and there always will be.
True newspapers have always found a way to be heralds of truth and democracy over and above the fray of tabloids and rags. And with reporting from our local journalists like the Indianapolis Star reporters who were finalists for a Pulitzer for their work on Indiana’s red flag laws, we will continue to distinguish ourselves even as the media landscape morphs into choose-your-own-adventure reading.

I am confident our papers have the ability to report on what matters, but that’s what you are tasked with—reporting the news. It’s up to those who support you to shepherd the profession into the future. That’s why I’m here.

Second, the more sordid elements in the history of journalism remain significant because they show us that this profession has the ability to pivot when we need to.
We will always find new ways to make it work, because above all else newspapers must exist to protect our democracy, educate our citizenry and bear witness to history.

At the beginning of my tenure as the executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association, I am asking myself how do we pivot?

I am confident our papers have the ability to report on what matters, but that’s what you are tasked with—reporting the news. It’s up to those who support you to shepherd the profession into the future. That’s why I’m here.

I’m eager to get to know all of our papers and work together to improve the state of journalism in Indiana. This summer I will be embarking on a statewide tour of newsrooms, until then please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your thoughts. The work begins today.

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