Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) says that he rejects the idea of a state-run “news” site, even though documents obtained by the Indianapolis Star earlier in the week indicated his office was planning to launch one.
According to the Star’s Tom LoBianco, Pence told conservative talk show host Greg Garrison that he would not move forward with “Just IN,” the title of the site, if it appears to be a state-run news service. Pence also denied knowing who wrote the plan for the “Just IN” site.
The Star reports:
“As governor I can assure you that (the plan) did not meet my expectations and if this website doesn’t meet my expectations of respecting the role of a free and independent press, I will reject it,” Pence said Wednesday on WIBC-FM.
Pence also repeated his earlier explanation that the new site was intended to be a resource, not a news source.
Garrison continued to question him: “How does an idea that’s antithetical to what you were setting out to do go that far, when nobody caught it? Who wrote that thing?”
Pence replied: “I’m asking all those questions, Greg. I frankly learned about the memo from press reports late Monday. Using terms like news service, like news outlet, it’s just not appropriate.”
The Star had reported that Pence had hired former Star reporter Bill McCleery to be Just IN’s “managing editor.”
Members of Pence’s communications staff scrambled to ward off further criticism and ridicule of the notion of a taxpayer-funded state-run news service.
On Wednesday, LoBianco tweeted from a press conference called to discuss “Just IN” that the briefing became a “backgrounder,” meaning that no source names could be identified.
Pence’s communications director Christy Denault said at the presser that the plan for the “Just IN” site began as a way to update the state’s online press release system.
“Denault said that the use of journalism language in the documents unearthed by The Star was ‘shorthand’ and never meant to give the idea they would be running a competing news outlet,” reported the Star.
As Breitbart News has reported, the documents indicated the “Just IN” site would have a “managing editor,” a “governance board,” and an “editorial board,” and provided job descriptions for various roles common at a news publication company or site.
“When we tried to put things down on paper, we started using some shorthand,” Denault said. “Frankly, we weren’t very clear with our language.”
In a memo to state agency heads Thursday, Pence, who has shown interest in a 2016 presidential bid, announced he was killing the plans for “Just IN,” reports the Star.
“However well intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing you to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately,” Pence wrote.