Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has directed officials to kill a Web site that would have served as a taxpayer-funded, state-run news service.
In a memo sent to state agency leaders, Pence said he had instructed Indiana’s Office of Information Technology to upgrade the current public calendar Web site, rather than developing a new site.
Pence told Indianapolis Star columnist Tim Swarens he would abandon plans to create the Just IN site, which would have hosted articles and press releases written by state employees.
That Web site generated controversy and outrage among members of the media earlier this week when documents obtained by the Star showed the Pence administration planned to use it to break its own news. Pence’s communications staff would have sat on the editorial board, overseen by former Star reporter Bill McCleery.
“A state-run news agency? What in the name of Vladimir Putin is the Pence administration thinking?” wrote Matthew Tully, a Star columnist. “The state’s conservative governor is creating his own news agency, one that will seek to compete with the traditional media and be funded by taxpayers. You can’t make this stuff up. Unless you work at The Onion, I guess.”
The state had hired two dedicated employees who would have been paid a total of almost $100,000 to run the site.