The state of Indiana has a population of 6,516,922 according to recent census data. Just about 1 in 4 people in the state live in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area and are therefore served by the Indianapolis Star. The Star itself likes to believe it is the paper of record for the entire state, let alone the near 1.75 million strong Indianapolis area. With two major Big Ten universities its coverage of college sports alone should be enough to keep it afloat in even the darkest of times.
Unfortunately for some, the Indianapolis Star today announced that due to a "change in its business model" it will soon be going behind a pay wall, which is nothing more than a way of prolonging its slow, painful death as a news source. Here is the full announcement today, with some commentary from me:
Since 1903, The Indianapolis Star has served Central Indiana with news and information. We've worked hard to keep a trust with you for nearly 110 years, even as a lot changed in that time.
A hundred years ago in Downtown Indy, people didn't just talk about mass transit -- they rode it. A fleet of more than 300 electric streetcars crisscrossed the city. We've seen construction of Indy's first skyscrapers, the launch and expansion of the convention center and the construction of Circle Centre mall. The once-new Market Square Arena and RCA Dome gave way to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium. We're home to new museums, the zoo, Victory Field, the NCAA headquarters and now the nation's second-largest medical school on the site where IUPUI was born.
How we communicate also has evolved, of course. We've moved from telegraph to telephones, to radio, to television and now into the digital age.
Certainly, one of the more dramatic changes is how you and other Central Indiana residents get your news and information. It wasn't too long ago that the printed edition of The Star was the only option we provided to you. Today, you engage with us on your desktop, on your smartphone and on your tablet. In Central Indiana alone, more than 210,000 residents engage with The Star each week on a digital platform. Even more telling, 89,000 Central Indiana residents look at our news and information only on our digital platforms each week.
And although many consumers choose to use digital devices to access our content, many still prefer the traditional print edition. In a typical week, more than 650,000 residents read a print edition of The Star. It's easy, though, to see where consumers are headed.
After a century of doing business in about the same way, it's time for us to transform The Star's business model. These changes will include a new Full Access subscription plan that reflects the value of our content and ensures our ability to grow and serve you better. We are not unlike thousands of businesses that have needed to rethink their business model to keep ahead of changing needs of consumers.
This is six paragraphs of nothing but pure, unadulterated bullcrap. Let me sum it up: "The world has changed and we no longer have any clue how to compete in a market where it is easier to read on your phone than with the newspaper that thuds on your doorstep with news that is hours old. Sure, people can get breaking news in a fast-paced news environment where 'The speed of Twitter' is king, but we're hoping you'll read us for local analysis that is subpar."
In the past year, we have met with many readers and conducted numerous research studies. We listened hard to what you want and need from us. No "one size fits all" was apparent, but what was obvious was the need to provide multiple options for you to access our content how, when and where you want it. And you told us that we must focus on (and invest in) the issues that you most care about. We will.
Here are a few key highlights of our new business model:
Read: get ready to have us explain why we're now going to charge you for things that used to be free.
Beyond the headlines
Our primary goal is to provide high-quality, in-depth journalism on topics you are passionate about. Great investigative reporting and public service rank high on that list. The Star's Our Children Our City project takes you inside the halls and classrooms of struggling schools and into the lives of children, shining a light on the troubling issues they confront and inspiring you to become involved. Our StarWatch investigative team brings you hard-hitting stories you can't get anywhere else -- exposing corruption, injustice and incompetent government agencies that waste your tax dollars.
Nevermind that TV stations will continue to be updated in a more timely manner and still be free. Also, as far as topics you are passionate about, forget it if you attended the second state school or are not interested in Notre Dame football. We're going to keep that tradition going too.
In sports, we take you beyond the games, bringing you closer to your favorite players and providing you with more angles on the Colts than any other source. We offer behind-the-scenes details, engaging humor, expert analysis and clever ways to save time and money.
You know, except for the few guys like Travis Miller, Tom Lewis, and Brad Wells who do this thing as a hobby instead of a full-time job and have the same access.
We have strong personalities and provocative columnists whose takes on life may delight you or rile you -- but always make you think. And we have great storytelling. All of this is part of our daily effort to improve your Star -- an effort that will now intensify as we devote greater resources to providing you with even more and better coverage.
Again, the school from West Lafayette will be completely ignored except for the occasional reprinted article from Mike Carmin or Jeff Washburn, who actually do a good job of covering what they are supposed to. Our provocative columnists will continue to ignore that other school as well except for the token article.
Also: concerning high school sports, which was the one area The Star used to own and could continue to on because the market is there and no one else does the coverage it can do. We're going to keep cutting back there too.
Multiple ways to connect with us
All subscribers will have full access 24/7 through all of our platforms:
" Print edition, delivered to your home.
" e-Newspaper, replica of the print edition.
" Desktop, on your computer.
" Mobile, iPhone, Android smartphone.
" iPad and other tablets.
Full Access digital-only subscriptions are available for $12 a month, only 40 cents a day. Beginning Sept. 1, we will limit access to news and information content consumed through our website, smartphones and tablets. Nonsubscribers still will be able to read up to 20 stories a month on IndyStar.com before needing to subscribe.
I believe that is called "burying the lede" in journalism school, but what do I know. I am just a blogger.
New subscription rates
We are committed to continuing to provide you with in-depth stories and compelling journalism in timely and meaningful ways. To be able to deliver on that commitment, we are raising some of our subscription prices. In August, you will get a letter from me outlining the specific changes to your subscription. The new rates are effective Sept. 1, but we will honor your current rate until your next billing cycle. We have not made this decision lightly. A Full Access subscription, including home delivery of the print edition each day, will be a great value at only 76 cents a day.
The same crap you've been reading for free will now cost you money, and we're not even addressing the central issue here that our content really sucks and we have no intention of improving it by bringing back a Purdue beat writer, improving our high school coverage (which is how local papers can thrive), or doing anything that prevents Bob Kravitz from sitting around the media room at the Big Ten Tournament with the "Peyton Manning will talk to me, who wants to touch me?" attitude instead of actually watching and writing about the games.
Finally, there is one more part of our transformation that I want to explain. You may have heard or read recently that we have decided, after 104 years, to put our Downtown building on Pennsylvania Street up for sale. It has been a wonderful part of our history. But the Penn building no longer suits the size and needs of our staff. We need space that inspires us to be creative and digitally focused as we continue to pursue great journalism that makes an impact and is a positive force on our community. We are committed that Star employees will relocate to a new location Downtown still to be determined. We hope to find space that inspires our future and welcome you to be a partner in the conversation.
All of our changes are meant to ensure we serve Central Indiana for a very long time. Our commitment to keep our readers informed and serve our community is stronger than ever.
Please, for the love of God, buy this so we can make it to December 2013.
On Aug. 12, we will publish a Q&A in The Star and on IndyStar.com regarding our changes. The next day, we'll also answer questions in a chat online. Please don't hesitate to email me with questions you'd like answered.
Look for my letter in your mailbox in the weeks ahead.
Thank you for making us part of your life. We will continue to work hard to earn your trust and your business.
I am aware that the Indy Star is not liked by most Purdue fans because of the obviously slanted coverage towards IU. They have even said they do it because it sells more papers. What I can't accept is the cutting over corners in having the Lafayette J&C be their arm just because it is another Gannett paper and the Bloomington Herald is not. There is NO WAY IN HELL that would happen if the situation was reversed. Michael Pointer was excellent as their Purdue beat writer. He actually understood the bigger picture instead of Terry Hutchens, who can barely type a coherent sentence over his raging IU boner.
it is simply frustrating to me that that the Star used to be good at several things, but because they continue to fail to grasp the media continues to change. The Star sports department alone used to have excellent high school coverage, and this state continues to love high school sports. as someone who has worked in this realm for 13 years I know that it is an area that is the life blood of many small Indiana newspapers. For the Colts and pacers you can get the same coverage nationally as you can locally. The same, for the most part, is true for Indiana, Purdue, and Notre Dame (unless you are into the blatant homerism of Terry Hutchens). No one else could do the coverage for local high school sports that the Star can. Instead of going back to that (which they also did for decades) they now want to charge for the likes of Hutchens.
The good news is that you don't have to worry about Purdue. I know most of you left the star long go and found a home here. For that, I am deeply honored. I am thrilled to continue being "a voice of the Purdue fan" with what I do here merely as a hobby. I am amazed every day that I am paid slightly to write about something I love and get unprecedented access for an over-exuberant fan. Myles, Steve, Juan, Riley, John, and the rest of the writers here are also grateful for the audience you provide.
As a final note, I should simply include this screencap, which shows that in a medium that thrives on timeliness, they can't even get the old-fashioned ways right because their paper deliver will be delayed: