John Hawn's perspective

Dateline: Wed 22 Jun 2011

John Hawn, former features copy desk chief who himself was riff'ed, had this to say (at my request for a comment). John also was active in the newspaper Guild:


    "You asked me my thoughts about the coming layoffs. I suspected they would occur when I heard about the planned folding of Metromix. No Metromix means fewer job positions will be maintained. Or more likely it was the other way around. 
    "After I regained employment, I renwed my subscription to The Star for two reasons:
            *I truly enjoy reading my morning paper.
            *Out of loyalty to the survivors who continue to slave away under miserable working conditions.
    "That said, I do not see how further layoffs in the newsroom can maintain the already low standards for quality. Should the newsroom layoffs occur, I'm canceling my subscription."

   It takes integrity to take this stance -- to cancel one's subscription in protest. I'm torn, because, like John, I trulyu enjoy my morning paper (I am the only one in the family who does).
   What would you do?


indykjsharp [unverified] said:

Continue to get it for the same reasons as you and out of loyalty to those left behind. But they're not getting my 13 pieces of silver for their NEW AND IMPROVED! Teevee guide. Stunned and sick by these developments.

2011-06-22 09:35:20

Kiel Kinnaman [unverified] said:

My take on the layoffs, from an old paperboy for The Indianapolis News.

2011-06-22 09:43:36

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I'll do what I've been doing for four years: but the Sunday Star, read online the rest of the week.

I feel a little guilty, but it just wasn't worth it any more. I mean, I like some of Tully's stuff, but a lot of it was fluff, written by his seat-of-pants attitude with little effort.

I stopped caring so much, when the writers stopped caring so much. Not all of them, to be sure. And perhaps they were only reflecting the crap management that was thrown their way.

Solid reporting started declining a few years ago. The chicken-egg thing is a pertinent discussion point.

Too many of them phone it in. Do you need examples? And too many big stories were massaged by Myra &'s become a corporate puff piece most of the time.

I'll risk $1.75 on Sundays, but no more.

And I might pay for their online site, if it were better. I mean, really...Touhy doing scanner rewrites, poor grammar....

2011-06-22 10:00:56

nauseous [unverified] said:

Why oh why isn't there an option for a subscription access to the online material? Yo produce quality content by qualified, professional, dedicated journalists and GIVE IT AWay?! what would the numbers look like is there was a $9/month online subscription, and then really bump up the integration between print and online, especially in the sports section where fans are always willing to pay more for the inside story? So sad to see the names of such qualified and "good" people.

2011-06-22 10:11:49

Nora [unverified] said:

There is an e-subscription. The electronic version lands in my inbox each morning, in pdf form, laid out exactly like the print paper with links to

Ruth - thank you for your awesome coverage and keeping us all in the loop.


2011-06-22 10:36:48

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I had no idea about the online subscription thing. They never promote it. I'll look into it today.

2011-06-22 11:05:09

hendy [Member] said:

I would say: don't waste your money. But I don't live in Indy anymore. I jumped ship.

If there's something you really need and you can't find it elsewhere, subscribe.

But this is a group that can't even do their website for Safari users. Their RSS feeds are unbelievably bad.

Circling the drain, I tell you. Vote with your dollars, despite the fact they're an ostensible monopoly. Tell them what you think with your advocacy-- or lack thereof.

You guys are newsies. Addicted to it, part of its process. And a corporation just screwed you, and your friends, and they're smiling about it, and will play golf this afternoon despite what it did to you and your families, and you're going to re-subscribe. Just what kind of addicted fools are you?

I go to the site for free obits, what's left of them. Even the obits dun the contributions of those that have passed before us. Charging money for them is the height of community insult. Yet you still wanna subscribe.

Just how much more insults will you take before you say, no, I'll get my dope somewhere else?

2011-06-22 11:30:14

hendy [Member] said:


This isn't your tribe anymore. You don't work there. There was a time when The Star and News were an integral part of the scene. You could barely lift it out of a snowbank and take it inside in the winter.


Yes, there are great memories. There are a few survivors still left there and I'm embarrassed for them, and I'm embarrassed for the Guild.

No longer is The Star an advocate for its citizenry, rife with mind-numbing orthodox radical right Bircher politic as it was. There were a few good eggs. The Keatings, the Shaunnesseys, the Holladays. Dan Carpenter, Erica Smith. All good eggs. And now it's down to less than a decent dozen. How many have gone on? Dozens. There's not much left there. There will be less, and less, and you can watch it like a slow train wreck until somebody buys Gannett and makes the WEBSITE important to people in Indy and beyond.

You paper addicts have to abstract the media (paper) from the message (news, community, features, etc.) and rebuilt THAT. Ruth's blog is one small slice of what needs to be amalgamated to replace the value once barely fulfilled by The Star. The revenues are there. The audience is there. The content is there, waiting for good writers and editors to have at it.

I wish them luck. And I wish the very best of luck to those that were RIFd. They did you a favor. If you're any good, you're on your way to a brighter career at a place that gives a shit.

2011-06-22 11:37:39

Mark Murrmann [unverified] said:

It's sad to read about the Star's most recent bloodletting, even though the paper is a shadow of what it once used to be.

For my money, it's worth paying for a paper that still invests in solid news reporting. If you need your daily newspaper fix (and you DO), subscribe to the NY Times, or hell, even the Wall Street Journal, and get your local news online. You'll get far more news than what I've typically found in the Star anymore.

Until executives at Gannett realize that newspaper readers want NEWS from their Newspaper (and accompanying online site), it's going to continue to be a sad, sinking ship.

2011-06-22 15:56:42

ruthholl [Member] said:

For those of you who do not know, Mark is aka Icki and was the voice of Icki's World. Punk tattoo 'zine Broad Ripple High School graduate artist we (I recommended, a proud moment) hired to write his perspective for readers of the long gone Sunrise section of the Star.
He had some immortal lines, too...waking up to hearing NPR "whining and begging for money" and how he couldn't stand it, he'd give them anything to make them stop, and his perspective as a volunteer for the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, where he earned money by allowing experiments to be performed. Plus those bus trips -- to San Francisco, etc.
Those were the days working for the paper were exciting, because we took risks, we didn't worry about layofs, nobody was ever fired, or hardly anyone (altho some should have been)....
Man, it was great.
Thank you, Icki. I know you are all grown up now, but Shari Finnell and I will always think of you as our love child...

2011-06-22 18:04:41

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"Dennis Ryerson, meanwhile, tried to put the happiest face on the reductions at a staff meeting Tuesday afternoon following the carnage. He barely paused to acknowledge the blood-letting, or to show empathy for everyone’s pain."

I don't know him, but his public persona is extremely irritating to me - kind of like one of those irritating television commercials that plays repeatedly.

His columns and other public pronouncements kind of give me that "Rome is burning while Nero plays the fiddle" feeling.

Is it denial or simple callousness?

Like I say, I don't know the man.

Thanks for reading old Whitebeard's post.

2011-06-22 19:53:01

Robert Knilands [unverified] said:

User was banned for obnoxious trolling and the comment was removed. --Admin

2011-06-22 20:30:21

DwightSchrute [Member] said:

Hey Whitebeard. About Ryerson? You asked if is denial or callousness? Probably some of both. He would probably claim its just business. But there's another thing that it could be -- lack of personality.

2011-06-22 20:45:50

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

One of the measures that gave newspapers credibility was their apparent immunity to market pressures. Like a great ship, the Star ploughed on, economically safe and secure and thus, its employees were likewise. Employment was forever, unless you did something like peeing in the AP wire machine. Once it became apparent that the Star is subject to the same economic forces that determined profitability for automakers and real estate developers, much of the community importance that built newspaper readership went out the window.

It is alas, a death spiral, that would have occurred even if the Pulliam Trust had not been broken. I would not begrudge Myrta and Russ their gains; somebody was going to win as newspapers began to lose to the internet. (This is too much like blaming Tony George for the sorry state of open wheel racing in America: Things Change.)

2011-06-23 07:13:19

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Mark and Ruth: I remember Icki. I loved the 'zine he produced. I loved the spirit and style he exhibited. Good luck to you, Mark. I think you came out to DC when I was there, didn't you?

2011-06-23 07:58:15

Mark 'icki' Murrmann [unverified] said:

Hey George! Yeah, I got the chance to meet you in DC when Mike Kraft (longtime Indiana cheerleader in DC) brought me by the Star bureau. That was an exciting trip.

I returned to DC a few years ago to cover the Hill as a freelance photographer. Now I'm at Mother Jones, working as the photo editor.

It's sad to see the gutting of the Star over the years. Everytime I return to Indianapolis it's harder and harder to recognize.

2011-06-24 16:13:20

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