INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is launching a state-run news service that promises to break news ahead of traditional media outlets and deliver stories written by state press secretaries.
The service named “Just IN” will debut in late February, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star. It will be overseen by a governance board consisting of department communications directors and an editorial board made up of former Star reporter Bill McCleery and the governor’s communications staff.
The stories will be posted on a state website and will range from straight news to personality profiles and other features, the Star reported.
A Pence spokeswoman declined comment Monday and said more details would be released soon.
A question-and-answer sheet distributed to state agency communications directors last week said strategies for determining when to post exclusive news on the site are still being discussed.
Media outlets run by governments exist elsewhere in the United States. The Illinois Government News Network distributes press releases from that state in a more newsy format, and the federal government runs Voice of America, which broadcasts only outside the U.S.
Just IN plans to pitch stories to media outlets and directly to the public.
“Just IN … will function as a news outlet in its own right for thousands of Hoosiers — transparent in functioning as a voice of the State of Indiana’s executive branch,” one document obtained by the Star said.
Steve Key, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association, said it is too soon to say whether the news service will simply provide more information to the media and the public or if it will be used to circumvent mainstream media.
“It’s not uncommon throughout history for governments to do what they can to control the message,” Key said. “Is that done in a benign way because they’re trying to get more info out to the public, or is it done with hidden motivations in making sure their message is seen in the best light possible?”