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Longtime city hall reporter latest to leave Star

January 29, 2014

An exodus of high-profile journalists continues at The Indianapolis Star, with city hall reporter Jon Murray planning to take a similar beat next month at The Denver Post.

The Colorado native announced his plans Monday on his Facebook page. Murray worked at the local Gannett Co. Inc.-owned newspaper for about 10 years.

"I’ve enjoyed my 10-plus years at The Star, but this was too great of an opportunity to pass up," Murray told IBJ via email. "I’m excited to return to my hometown."

Robert King, president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, said Murray will be missed.

“Jon’s done some great work for us on a high-profile beat. He’s been great at social media and in getting the word out quickly on breaking news,” King said.

Star Editor Jeff Taylor did not respond Thursday morning to a request for comment.

The Star recently lost its biggest source of institutional knowledge on state government when Mary Beth Schneider resigned to take care of aging parents. Schneider covered the Statehouse since the second term of former Gov. Evan Bayh in the early 1990s.

In late-December, The Star dismissed its longtime food writer, Jolene Ketzenberger, for operating a personal website about the local culinary scene. The site, EatDrinkIndy.com, does not accept advertising, but the Star perceived it as a conflict of interest. Ketzenberger said she declined to disable the site.

In November, long-time northern suburbs reporter Dan McFeely quit the paper to launch his own marketing firm. His first gig was with the city of Carmel, which he formerly covered as a Star reporter. He could earn up to $99,000 under a contract with the city to conduct research and write about Carmel’s splendor.

Late last year the paper’s education reporter, Scott Elliott, resigned to set up a not-for-profit education news site known as Chalkbeat Indiana. The site plans to cover institutions such as Indianapolis Public Schools, the Indiana General Assembly and the State Board of Education.

Last summer, the Star’s “Talk of our Town” columnist, Cathy Kightlinger, quit the paper to take a job as director of public relations for the Long-Sharp Gallery.

The departures are on top of numerous involuntary reductions since Central Newspapers Inc. sold the paper to Gannett in 2000. In one round, in 2011, 62 employees were let go, including 15 percent of the newsroom staff. That left 136 newsroom employees, down from 230 in 2007.

Last July, in the fifth round of cuts in five years, another 11 newsroom employees were terminated, including two seasoned managers and three copy editors.

The daily newspaper plans to relocate this summer to the former Nordstrom department store space at Circle Centre mall. Gannett has agreed to sell its Star campus at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. for $11.25 million to locally based TWG Development for a large-scale apartment project.

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