Gannett Has Done Hoosiers No Favors With Their Bias

Before I launch into the meat of this article, please allow me the opportunity to review why I began Muncie and Middletown Voice in the land of Gannett several years ago. A concept I learned along the way is “making informed decisions”. This concept was later transformed while seeking my graduate degree in organizational leadership when we talked about reviewing a decision by looking at one scenario through different lenses or frames to gain perspective.

We need to gain perspective as we grow so we can make better decisions. Life challenges us to make better decisions. If we do not grow in understanding through personal development, we will continue making poor decisions – the pattern repeats itself over and over again until we learn the lesson.

Back to the purpose of the article, although my background does not include journalism, my writing was used as a communication tool to advocate million dollar loans for clients, restructure bank operations by developing best practices, and sharing ideas about spiritual leadership. I watched the Gannett owned Star Press in Muncie use their newspaper to promote images and shape reality that was inaccurate and dishonest. Being involved in local politics and asking lots of questions, it was obvious that Gannett was using their newspaper to shape the culture of Muncie. Come to find out, they own the following newspapers in Indiana cities.

Being the only daily print newspaper in town, they can use their monopoly to influence how people perceive Muncie both inside and outside our community. They described the previous Mayor and her administration as a tough woman who was fighting the “Good Ole Boy” network to bring them all down, Western style.

However, that was not my experience at all. While a nice lady, the previous Mayor of Muncie was grossly under-qualified and people took advantage of her inexperience. Despite the inexperience, our ego tells us we know much and that is where self awareness comes in to play, or else, as Clint Eastwood playing Dirty Harry in films would say, “A man must know his limitations.”

She didn’t, and it showed time and time again. Everything was a battle – even when it didn’t have to be. As I mentioned before, a new administration took office and accomplished more in 4 months than the previous mayor accomplished in four years.

Maybe I was a tad naive, but the role of journalism is essential to a functioning democracy. Didn’t our founders grant the profession specific privileges to hold our government and private enterprises accountable for their actions?

Apparently, I’m not alone in my naivety, since during the 2013 World Press Freedom Day, world famous economist, Joseph Stiglitz offered a master class on how, from an economist’s viewpoint, the press plays an important role in “calling attention to the abuses of governance in both the public and private sectors,” as well as how information is a type of public good, which should benefit everyone.

So, here we have a newspaper who has been granted powers and special privileges by our constitution to hold people and institutions accountable for abuses in power within both the public and private sectors, yet chooses their medium to shape false opinions about reality – or ideologues. It’s like saying, “We want this state to be a conservative state therefore we’ll tell everyone that republicans are fighting excessive government and corruption by those darn democrats.” If that’s their belief or ideology, then the articles they write will portray that story line (sound familiar?).

For instance, what us Hoosiers have witnessed the past several weeks with Mitch Daniels’ abuse of power as governor and Tony Bennett’s falsifying educational records to benefit a campaign donor were done right here in Indianapolis, Indiana, but guess who broke the stories? Current Governor Mike Pence misled Hoosiers about the cost of healthcare insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and guess which Hoosier journalist exposed his deceptive game?

None of these stories were reported by a Gannett owned paper in Indiana – not one. (red flag)

I read a newspaper article last week in the IndyStar about how safe GMO’s are according to a company called CropLife, and the journalist quoted CropLife, which represents Big Ag but never made reference to the fact that CropLife is a conglomeration of Big Ag and how they’ve secured patents on their seeds which prevents studies by independent labs. When informing Hoosiers about the food we eat, don’t we deserve to know the truth? (by the way, all the comments have been deleted from the article)

As consumers/voters/citizens, how can we make informed decisions if the media/press is misleading us? How can we trust these sources to provide us with credible information so we can vote wisely, or make quality decisions for our family?

In Muncie, Indiana, when the Gannett newspaper has the power to control how people think about their community and the people in leadership roles, shouldn’t they have the decency to provide with an honest and straightforward appraisal of reality?

As Hoosiers, when the politicians and the newspapers use the exact same rhetoric to push their agenda, shouldn’t that be a giant red flag to all of us? When major stories are broke by journalists outside of Indiana about public officials within our borders, shouldn’t we be asking some important questions?

If they’re not serving the role our constitution established for them, why do they still have these privileges? Why don’t we substitute them with something else which will be more objective and help us make better decisions for ourselves and our families?

I read comments from fellow Hoosiers and neighbors from outside Indiana, wondering why Hoosiers are voting for these people. It’s possible that we are a red state due to the lies being told by the media for far too long. I am convinced, if Hoosiers are told the truth about our public and private sectors, they would not support this behavior. They wouldn’t vote for them, and they wouldn’t buy their products and services. I might be naive, but I firmly believe Hoosier values stand for something meaningful.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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