INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana won’t continue developing a state-run news website, Gov. Mike Pence announced Thursday after days of criticism over his plans to offer prewritten stories to the media.
Pence issued a memo to leaders of state agencies, informing them that the state would not create the new website, which was to have been named “Just IN,” and instead would work to update an existing website that contains news releases and notices of public meetings.
“As you are aware, concern has arisen regarding the development of a new website for the state of Indiana. However well intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately,” he wrote.
The move followed criticism that erupted after The Indianapolis Star published internal documents Monday that detailed plans for state press secretaries to write stories and news releases for the public and the media. The documents said the site at times would break news.
The notion of prewritten stories outraged journalists around the country, who likened the endeavor to state-run media in Russia and China and lambasted the plan with headlines like “Pravda on the Plains.”
Pence’s team scrambled this week to portray the website as a project aimed at better organizing and presenting news releases from state agencies.
The memo describing “Just IN” was “poorly crafted,” Pence said Wednesday, and he vowed he’d kill the project if it did not meet his expectations.
The project was expected to cost taxpayers $100,000 in salaries. The status of the editor and an assistant hired for the project wasn’t immediately clear Thursday.